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Fred Goldberg
Sharon Bendall
Pat Heller

Robert Poel






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Fred Goldberg | Project Co-Director

Fred Goldberg is a Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics at San Diego State University. He is also Head of the Physics Learning Research Group in the Center for Mathematics and Science Education (CRMSE). Although trained in atomic physics, for the past fifteen years he has concentrated his efforts on research in physics learning and the development of instructional materials. During the past eight years he has directed ten major projects (nine supported by the National Science Foundation) involving research in physics learning, materials development, teacher preparation and/or teacher enhancement. His research focus has been on investigating student understanding in various domains of physics, developing strategies to facilitate meaningful learning within those domains, and documenting how students learn physics in the context of using these new strategies (many of which involve computer technology).

He has collaborated with members of the Physics Learning Research Group to develop interactive computer programs in the domains of geometrical optics, static electricity, electric circuits and magnetism. The design of these programs was based on research in how students learn physics. His efforts also include being Director for the CPU (Constructing Physics Understanding) Project which is aimed at creating laboratory and computer-based materials to support a learning environment where students take primary responsibility for developing valid and robust knowledge in physics. The powerful and innovative software being developed for the CIPS project builds on these previous works.


Sharon Bendall | Project Co-Director

Sharon Bendall received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in physics from Memphis State University, then for over two years worked in traditional research at IBM's T. J. Watson Laboratory in New York State. After coming to San Diego, Sharon has served as a part-time faculty member of the Physics Department at San Diego State University, where she has taught the calculus-based introductory physics course for scientists and engineers. Since leaving traditional physics research 10 years ago, she has been intensively involved in research in physics education. Her experience as a professional researcher in a non-academic environment has given her insight into the abilities that students need after their tenure in formal education.

Sharon has had senior responsibilities on two prior NSF-funded projects. On these projects she participated in the development of a computer-based physics curriculum for pre-service elementary school teachers. She recently served as the principle investigator on another NSF-funded project to develop a "writing to learn" strategy for the calculus-based introductory physics course. The strategy helps students to develop a strong conceptual base that is often lacking in traditional versions of this course. On the CPU Project Sharon participates in the design of the CPU curriculum and works with national teams who implement the curriculum. In addition to her work in physics education, Sharon enjoys church and family activities (she has a terrific husband and three great children), cooking and flower gardening (her husband claims that she mostly likes to plant and pick them, leaving the rest of the work to him).



Pat Heller | Project Co-Director

Pat Heller is a professor of science education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Minnesota. She received a M.S. in physics from the University of Washington in 1969 and a Ph.D. in science education from the University of Michigan in 1978. She has a wide range of teaching experiences, including general science at the elementary school level, physics, chemistry and physical science at the high school level, and science education for elementary and secondary teachers at the college level.

Her research focus has been in two areas: student difficulties with the conceptual and mathematical aspects of problem solving, and the design and evaluation of an instructional approach to help students overcome their difficulties with these two aspects of problem solving.




Robert Poel | Project Co-Director

Robert Poel earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in physics from Kalamazoo College. Subsequently he taught at the junior high and middle school levels before completing M.A. and Ph.d degrees at Western Michigan University. Currently he is the Director of the Center for Science Education and Professor of Science Studies at Western Michigan University where he has been employed since 1970. Bob has been involved in science education (emphasis in physics and physical science) in professional and curriculum development projects at the regional, state, and national levels. He is currently active in science education reform efforts in Michigan serving on committees that have rewritten the states' science standards and developed new benchmarks and criteria for professional development and science teacher certification. At the university, Bob teaches science to prospective elementary teachers, teaching methods to secondary science teachers, and teaches and works with graduate students in science education.

Dr. Poel has led efforts in Michigan to provide professional development opportunities for middle-grade teachers with Operation Physics and is currently working with Operation Primary Physical Science another professional development project aimed at improving the physical science content background of early elementary teachers in western Michigan. Bob is also the project manage and co-PI of a curriculum development project published by the American Association of Physics Teachers titled Powerful Ideas in Physical Science. This NSF funded project has developed a model inquiry-based curriculum in physical science for use at the college level for pre-service elementary teachers. He is also a CPU team leader in western Michigan for Constructing Physics Understanding (CPU), another NSF sponsored program designed at San Diego State University using computer assisted instruction tools and directed at improving the content background of elementary teachers and as a physics curriculum for high-school students. Currently Dr. Poel is co-PI of the Constructing Ideas in Physical Science project working with a team of science educators at San Diego State University, the University of Minnesota, and Western Michigan University to develop a year long physical science course for middle-school students. This curriculum will use an inquiry-based pedagogy and innovative computer simulators and tools that allow students to construct explanatory models based upon evidence that they collect.


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