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Physics & Astronomy
Laramie, WY 82071
Center for Astronomy & Physics Education Research - CAPER
The Center for Astronomy & Physics Education Research - CAPER Team at the University of Wyoming is an internationally recognized education research, development, and evaluation team of faculty, post-docs, and graduate students. Led by Dr. Stephanie Slater, University of Wyoming Physics & Astronomy Department, and Dr. Tim Slater, University of Wyoming Excellence in Higher Education Endowed Professor of Science Education, the CAPER Team vision is to be widely recognized as the world's leading astronomy, physics, and earth and environmental sciences education research group actively pioneering the development, assessment, and dissemination of strategies, materials, and resources supporting high quality teaching and learning in science.
CAPER Team Mission
The mission of the Center for Astronomy & Physics Education Research - CAPER Team is to improve student learning by providing an extramurally funded, academic environment within a scholarly research institution to build and leverage the growing and diverse scholarly literature on pedagogical content knowledge (PCK).
CAPER Team Research Agenda
The research agenda of the of the Center for Astronomy & Physics Education Research - CAPER Team is shaped by the framework of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and reflects an intellectualization of what makes learning specific science topics easy or difficult, how this changes with learners of different ages, backgrounds, motivations, and pre-conceptions that learners carry with them, and how best to equip teachers to teach science. The research effort is focused on the scholarly development, systematic assessment, and widespread dissemination of multiple, meaningful representations of scientific ideas, including the most powerful analogies, illustrations, examples, explanations, demonstrations, inquiries, experiences, and engagements, that help effective teachers and faculty engage students in science.
Sample of CAPER Team Research Questions
- What is the nature and impact of undergraduate College of Science courses and research experiences on student understanding and teacher preparation?
- How does teaching future teachers how to conduct scientific inquiry impact classroom practice?
- How do students' abilities in spatial reasoning impact the learning of science?
- What are the impacts of Internet-mediated scientific data collection (e.g., remote control telescopes) or Internet data mining investigations on undergraduate science education for non-majors and future teachers?
- What phenomenological primitives (p-prims) impact the learning of science, particularly in astronomy and earth system science?
- What is the long-term educational impact of authentic research experiences on the STEM career pipeline and in teacher preparation and in-service professional development?
- How do learners cognitively and affectively experience informal learning environments?
- Which instructional strategies and curriculum materials are K-12 teachers and college/university professors most able to successfully adopt?
PhD Program in Science Education
The Ph.D program in science education research at the University of Wyoming is being tailored to meet the specific needs of each student. At the present time, only full-time, on-campus doctoral students are being admitted and full-tuition expenses are usually covered by a graduate research assistantship. The focus of the Ph.D. program is to rigorously prepare students to be "stewards of the discipline" so that graduates can go on to university faculty careers where they contribute meaningfully to the scholarly research base on science education and science teacher education, teach high-quality undergraduate science survey courses, and prepare future K-12 science teachers and college professors for 21st Century science teaching.