Sanjay Rebello (Principal Investigator), Associate Professor of Physics, and Lester Loschky (Co-PI), Associate Professor of Psychology, received a grant from the National Science Foundation Division of Research on Fostering Interdisciplinary Research on Education entitled FIRE: Exploring Visual Cueing to Facilitate Problem Solving in Physics. This three-year award began October 1, 2011. The project builds on research done by Physics Ph.D. student Adrian Madsen, and Psychology Ph.D. student Adam Larson, under the guidance of Professors Rebello and Loschky.
Vision is a critically important medium of communication. Students are continuously bombarded with images on television, cell phones and during instruction. Although well-designed images can facilitate learning, poorly designed images can hinder learning. This project tests the hypothesis that appropriately designed visual cues provided on physics problems, can improve students physics problem solving skills. This project strengthens an existing partnership between a cognitive psychologist mentor and physics education researcher mentee to test the above hypothesis through a sequence of two studies with a total of 150 participants enrolled in introductory algebra-based physics courses. An expert panel of two cognitive psychologists, Dr. David Irwin and Dr. Brian Ross, and a physics education researcher, Dr. Jose Mestre, all of University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, will serve as the Advisory Board and external evaluators.