Date of Award/Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

MS in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education


When I started the Graduate program in Math, Science and Technology Education, it was clear to me that I was responsible for knowing the basic content in Physics. I was a Physics major at Penn, graduating with honors, however that was 30 years ago. Since that time I had occasions to apply some of the Physics and Math that I had learned, however, it was very apparent to me that my knowledge base was not very accessible and that many new discoveries had been made. Therefore, I took it upon myself to slowly read a College level text, "Physics" by Cutnell and Johnson (2001). I was particularly impressed with the organization of the book. Each chapter showed the key physical concepts to be learned and how these related to prior concepts. All chapters stressed conceptual understanding, had model problems and realistic problem applications. That approach led to my making a connection with concept mapping. I tried to integrate some of the concept models from individual chapters into one comprehensive one for kinematics and dynamics (first quarter of the course). I was successful in developing an integrated concept map for static and current electricity. This subsequently led me to think about how a student's conception of a topic in Physics might be influenced by teaching. It would be interesting to study this. Subsequently, I discussed this idea with Dr. Lucia Guarino who said that there was a whole field of research called "Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK)". The name was so cumbersome that I could not even remember it, Jet alone look it up. When I saw her several months later she told me again and this time I wrote it down. I then searched the Internet and found a good article, which in tum, led me to the seminal article by Dr. Lee Shulman published in 1986. After reading that article and several others I could understand the definition o fPCK and identified a model that is applicable to my research interest. I was particularly excited by Schulman's belief that case studies are important for the contribution of knowledge to the field and that teachers should conduct these.