# Spotlight on new faculty: Eric Kuo, Physics Education Research

Jessica Raley for Illinois Physics

11/13/2019

### The Department of Physics at Illinois welcomes an extraordinary set of ten new faculty members this year. Eight of them have arrived on campus and have begun setting up their labs and settling into life in Champaign-Urbana. Two more faculty are set to arrive in January. We will feature each of them here over the next couple of weeks. Check back regularly to learn more about the exciting work these new faculty members are doing.

## Gary Gladding and Victoria Christensen Faculty Fellow Eric Kuo

Eric Kuo studies the mechanisms of how physics students think and learn, using these investigations to inform design and assessment of new instructional methods. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to learning, he draws on principles and techniques from related fields, including psychology, cognitive science, and the learning sciences. A major focus of his work is clarifying problem-solving expertise: how do people learn to apply what they know to solve unfamiliar problems? His continuing research investigates the impact of students’ (i) mathematical and conceptual cognition and (ii) motivation, attitudes, and beliefs about learning on how they solve physics problems. Building on this work, he has shown that a *mathematical sensemaking*-focused curriculum can foster problem-solving insights and physical interpretations of mathematical results. At Illinois, he plans to develop quantitative and qualitative characterizations of student problem solving in physics courses, as well as develop and test different instructional techniques, including the use of causal reasoning diagrams and future iterations of the *mathematical sensemaking* curriculum. Eric will join the Illinois Physics faculty in January 2020.

For more information about Eric's work, or to inquire about joining his research group, click here.