NSF Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL) #0733140, 2008-2010; $290,874


PIs and Collaborators 

  • Eugenia Etkina (Principal Investigator), Rutgers
  • Alan Van Heuvelen (Co-Principal Investigator), Rutgers
  • Suzanne Brahmia (Co-Principal Investigator), Rutgers
  • Eva Thanheiser (Former Co-Principal Investigator)


AnswThe PuM project develops and conducts research on a learning continuum for seamless instruction in middle school physical science and high school physics. The project is built on a conceptual framework that uses physical science and physics to strengthen students' concepts in pre-algebra, algebra, algebra 2 and geometry. Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE), an introductory physics curriculum that builds on advances in cognition, is modified to engage students in representing processes and knowledge in multiple ways using real world contexts for students to learn mathematics and physics. The physics Active Learning Guide (ALG) is included as a learning tool. The ultimate goal of the project is to use physics as the context to develop mathematics literacy, particularly with students from underrepresented populations and special needs students. The research component of this R&D project analyzes the effects of the PuM curriculum on students' learning using laboratory exercises, videos and unique experiments and associated equipment while simultaneously investigating teachers' pedagogy content knowledge in a variety of forms. During the period of funding, the project will: (1) develop a middle school and high school curriculum called PhysicsUnionMath (PuM) by adapting the already established curricula from ISLE and ALG for grades 6-12; (2) develop, pilot, and assess five middle school and high school Physics First PuM modules; (3) pilot and assess one full year of the proposed PuM curriculum with honors physics students; (4) design and implement a professional development plan for teachers to learn the program; and (5) study the implementation of this curriculum with the targeted populations.

Publications and Products Resulting from this Research 

Bartiromo, T. and Etkina, E.. "Implementing reforms: Teacher Beliefs about curriculum and their students' learning," Proceedings of the 2009 PERC conference, v.1179, 2009, p. 89.