The goal of my research is to identify sources of student difficulties in learning physics both at the introductory and advanced levels, and to design, implement, and assess curricula/pedagogies that may significantly reduce these difficulties. The objective is to enable students at all levels to develop critical thinking skills, and to become good problem solvers and independent learners.
Below are examples of investigations in both the introductory and advanced courses we are pursuing:
- Difficulties in learning Quantum Mechanics and tutorial development: We have been investigating the difficulties that advanced undergraduate students have in learning quantum physics by designing surveys and interviewing individual students. We find that the difficulties and misconceptions displayed by advanced students are largely independent of their background, teaching style, and textbook similar to those documented for introductory physics. We are currently developing and evaluating tutorials for helping students learn various topics in advanced quantum mechanics.
- Introductory level topics: We have been investigating the difficulties that introductory students have with energy and momentum concepts, symmetry and Gauss's law, magnetism, and rotational and rolling motion concept. We have developed and administered free–response and multiple–choice questions and conducted interviews with individual students using think–aloud protocol to understand their difficulties. We have developed tutorials to help students learn superposition, symmetry, and Gauss's law.
- Cognitive issues in learning physics: We are interested in researching the connection between student difficulties in learning physics and models of cognition. For example, we want to understand how physical intuition develops and how the problem solving strategies of individuals at different levels of expertise in physics shows similaritities and differences when physical intuition fails. We are also investigating how expertise develops in the context of learning physics.
- Teaching effective problem solving: We are currently investigating the extent to which students can be taught effective problem solving heuristics. We are developing video–tutorials that help students learn effective problem solving strategies using concrete examples in an interactive environment. The tutorials are designed to provide scaffolding support and help students view the problem solving process as an opportunity for knowledge and skill acquisition rather than a "plug and chug" chore. Preliminary evaluations are encouraging.
- "Modeling the interactions between polymers and clay surfaces through self-consistent field theory," Anna C Balazs, Chandralekha Singh, Ekaterina Zhulina, Macromolecules 31, 8370 (1998)
- "Theoretical phase diagrams of polymer/clay composites: the role of grafted organic modifiers," Valeriy V Ginzburg, Chandralekha Singh, Anna C Balazs, Macromolecules 33, 1089 (2000)
- "Modeling the phase behavior of polymer/clay nanocomposites," Anna C Balazs, Chandralekha Singh, Ekaterina Zhulina, Yulia Lyatskaya, Acc. Chem. Res. 32, 651 (1999)
- "Student understanding of quantum mechanics," Chandralekha Singh, Am. J. Phys. 69, 885 (2001)
- "Forming patterned films with tethered diblock copolymers, Ekaterina B Zhulina, Chandralekha Singh, Anna C Balazs, Macromolecules 29, 6338 (1996)
- "Impact of evidence-based flipped or active-engagement non-flipped courses on student performance in introductory physics," Nafis I. Karim, Alexandru Maries, Chandralekha Singh, Canadian J. Phys. January (2018)
- "Do evidence-based active-engagement courses reduce the gender gap in introductory physics?" Nafis I. Karim , Alexandru Maries and Chandralekha Singh, Eur. J. Phys. (2017)
- "Do students benefit from drawing productive diagrams themselves while solving introductory physics problems? The case of two electrostatic problems," Alexandru Maries and Chandralekha Singh, Eur. J. Phys. 39 015703 (2018)
- "Investigating and improving introductory physics students' understanding of the electric field and superposition principle," Jing Li and Chandralekha Singh, Eur. J. Phys. 38, 055702 (2017)
- "The challenges of changing teaching assistants’ grading practices: Requiring students to show evidence of understanding," Emily Marshman, Ryan Sayer, Charles Henderson, Edit Yerushalmi, Chandralekha Singh, Canadian Journal of Physics (2017).
- "Effectiveness of interactive tutorials in promoting “which-path” information reasoning in advanced quantum mechanics," Alexandru Maries, Ryan Sayer, and Chandralekha Singh, Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 13, 020115 (2017)