American Journal of Physics®

Physics Education Research Section (PERS)

The Physics Education Research Section (PERS) publishes articles describing important results from the field of physics education research.  Manuscripts should be submitted using the web-based system that can be accessed via the American Journal of Physics home page,, and will be forwarded to the PERS editor for consideration.

Section Editor: Michael Wittmann, University of Maine

Mission Statement:

The purpose of the Physics Education Research Section (PERS) is to provide a forum for the presentation of research results on the scientific investigation of the learning and teaching of physics. The main focus of the work should be on post-secondary physics education, although manuscripts on upper-secondary physics education will be considered if the findings are also relevant to college teaching.

A primary goal of PERS is the documentation of what is known about physics teaching and learning for the physics instructor interested in providing his or her students with a more successful learning experience. A second goal is to increase the exchange of information and views among researchers in physics education. In addition to articles describing a research study, PERS encourages submission of other types of articles that could be of value to both the community of physics instructors and the community of physics education researchers. These might include, for example, review articles or theoretical papers.  Important criteria for the suitability of a manuscript for PERS are its accessibility and interest to the general readership of AJP.

Topics from neighboring disciplines are entirely appropriate when they relate to student understanding of physics. For example, articles from chemistry education researchers on student difficulties with the atomic model or geology articles about student understanding of heat flow in the earth would be welcome.

Experimental papers should focus on the student as a learner, not on the physics alone nor on what material has been covered without reference to the student's responses. However, papers on the impact of the role of the instructor, instructor's methods, and instructor's attitudes on student learning are welcome and encouraged.

Articles that are not appropriate for PERS include:

  • Descriptions of curriculum development or curriculum content without an evaluation of student learning.
  • Papers describing novel approaches to laboratory and classroom instruction without an evaluation of student learning.
  • The solution of a physics problem.
  • Papers of historical, philosophical, and cultural value to physicists.
  • Papers that show new ways of understanding, demonstrating, or deriving familiar results.