• IMPROVEMENTS EXIST: Substantial improvements in undergraduate physics education have been made with existing knowledge and resources in a variety of contexts; encouraging and preserving these gains requires a symphony of efforts by many different participants, and improving on them requires continuing research and development.
a. Novel curricula, materials, and approaches to instruction exist that have demonstrated improved results, not only in students’ conceptual and quantitative knowledge of physics, but also in their ability to engage in scientific inquiry.
b. Some physics departments have demonstrated how to be attentive to their student communities, attract more students to physics, retain them through the major, and support them in a variety of career aspirations.
c. There is a substantial and growing research base on which institutions can draw to improve educational practices.
d. Implementing change will require concerted efforts at a range of levels, from individual physics faculty and departments to top administrative levels in universities, state and federal governmental agencies, research funding sources, and professional associations.
• SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO PHYSICS EDUCATION: Future improvement of undergraduate physics education depends critically on a vigorous physics education research enterprise and effective application of its findings.
a. Physics education research has emerged relatively recently as an important element of the broader academic exploration of the science of teaching and learning.
b. Physics education research has yielded findings that are being applied in the development of better educational practices in some institutions and that could be more universally adopted.
c. Education research in physics is a rapidly growing field and is still finding answers to important questions about learning and pedagogy. Physics education research needs systemic support to fuel future improvements in education.
In Chapter 4, the committee offers suggestions and recommendations to each of the major audiences whose active and concerted engagement is essential to