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History of APS involvement in education


As part of the partnership with the American Physical Society (APS), APLU contracted with the disciplinary society to document how and why APS became involved in physics education reform as a possible guide to other disciplinary societies interested in seeding reform for STEM education in their discipline.

Popkin reports that early in its history, APS focused on promoting physics research, publishing journals, and organizing meetings. As early as 1915 the Society did appoint a committee "to consider how the Society can be made useful to teachers in colleges and secondary schools,'" but APS generally declined to address educational and pedagogical issues except in marginal fashion.

In the 1980's this began to change with the creation of APS' Department of Education and Outreach, which was in response to a growing awareness of educational problems facing the nation. One of the projects of this new department was a reevaluation of introductory undergraduate physics curriculum, which forged a partnership between the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT - which had spun off from APS in 1930), the American Institute of Physics (AIP), and APS.


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