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Learning from Physics Education Research: Lessons for Economics Education

19 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2008 Last revised: 16 Aug 2016

Scott P. Simkins

NC A&T State University

Mark H. Maier

Glendale Community College

Date Written: June 27, 2008


We believe that economists have much to learn from educational research practices and related pedagogical innovations in other disciplines, in particular physics education. In this paper we identify three key features of physics education research that distinguish it from economics education research - (1) the intentional grounding of physics education research in learning science principles, (2) a shared conceptual research framework focused on how students learn physics concepts, and (3) a cumulative process of knowledge-building in the discipline - and describe their influence on new teaching pedagogies, instructional activities, and curricular design in physics education. In addition, we highlight four specific examples of successful pedagogical innovations drawn from physics education - context-rich problems, concept tests, just-in-time teaching, and interactive lecture demonstrations - and illustrate how these practices can be adapted for economic education.

Keywords: economic education, physics education research (PER), research-based teaching, preconceptions, metacognition, transfer, context-rich problems, peer instruction, just-in-time teaching, interactive lecture demonstration

JEL Classification: A2

Suggested Citation

Simkins, Scott P. and Maier, Mark H., Learning from Physics Education Research: Lessons for Economics Education (June 27, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Scott P. Simkins

NC A&T State University ( email )

Merrick Hall
Greensboro, NC 27411
United States
336.285.3047 (Phone)

Mark H. Maier (Contact Author)

Glendale Community College ( email )

1500 North Verdugo Rd.
Glendale, CA 91208
United States
818-240-1000 X5468 (Phone)
818-549-9436 (Fax)


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