Citation for the Presentation of the ICPE Medal
to Professor Lillian Christie McDERMOTT,
University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
Professor Lillian Christie McDermott is awarded the ICPE medal for her continuing leadership in physics education research on three fronts: for her research on understanding student difficulties in learning physics, for her development of research-based inquiry curricula, and for her tireless efforts to further the acceptance and understanding of physics education research within the community of physics and throughout the world.
Her research into student difficulties with learning physics spans 25 years and almost all of the topics in the introductory physics curriculum from kinematics to modern physics. She led the education research community in showing how to adapt the idea of the demonstration and problem solving interviews developed in cognitive psychology so as to make it effective in understanding how students think about physics. In addition, she showed how to extend what was learned in such interviews with individuals to large groups of students through testing with open-ended questions.
In addition to elucidating and documenting student difficulties with particular topics of physics, she broke new ground in demonstrating how to create high quality curricular materials based on research knowledge. Her developmental model used research techniques to continually refine her materials in a cycle of research, development, and instruction that produce materials that are highly effective in building physics concepts for a large fraction of students, and that are demonstrably transferable. Her curricula, Physics by Inquiry and Tutorials in Introductory Physics have not only been widely adopted, they have become models for numerous other successful curricula developed by others.
Finally, Lillian McDermott has been the most visible advocate of the value of physics education research to the physics teaching community world-wide. Since 1979, she has given more than 300 invited talks, colloquia, seminars, and workshops at meetings, conferences, and universities around the world. In addition, she has served as mentor for dozens of students, teachers, and researchers who wanted to learn to do and use physics education research. Her research group has provided a model for education research within a physics department that has led a change in the way that physics as a profession interacts with education and education research.
August 2002 Prof. Dr.-Ing. Juergen A. Sahm,
Chairman of ICPE
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