Eric Kuo

Assistant Professor


Eric Kuo

Primary Research Area

  • Physics Education
309 Loomis Laboratory


Eric Kuo received bachelor's degrees in physics and mathematics from Brandeis University in 2008. After a brief stint teaching high school physics, he began his graduate work at the University of Maryland, where he received his Ph.D. in physics in 2013. After working as a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University and as a research associate at the University of Pittsburgh, he joined the physics department at Illinois in 2020. Professor Kuo takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of teaching and learning, drawing on research in other fields, such as the learning sciences, psychology, and cognitive science, to study the dynamics of learning and to develop models of how physics students think. He applies these models to tackle a broad range of issues related to physics education, with a strong focus on mathematical reasoning, causal reasoning, and problem solving.

Research Interests

  • Mathematical reasoning in physics
  • Fostering adaptive problem-solving expertise
  • Using Bayesian networks to investigate causal reasoning
  • Student epistemological views on what it means to learn and understand physics
  • The impacts of motivation on physics learning
  • Applying psychological learning theories to physics instruction and assessment

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

I'm always looking to work with undergrad and grad students interested in physics education research. If you'd like to discuss possible opportunities or have any questions, please send me an email. Students working with me can expect to gain a background in theories of learning and quantitative/qualitative methodologies for examining physics education. My research team welcomes individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and ideas who embrace and value diversity and inclusivity.

Selected Articles in Journals

  • Kuo, E., Hull, M. M., Elby, A., & Gupta, A. (2020). Assessing mathematical sensemaking in physics through calculation-concept crossover. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 16(2), 020109.
  • Wallace, T. L., & Kuo, E. (2020). Publishing qualitative research in the Journal of Educational Psychology: Synthesizing research perspectives across methodological silos [Editorial]. Journal of Educational Psychology, 112(3), 579-583.
  • Kuo, E., & Wallace, T. L. (2020). Introduction to the special section: Qualitative studies of reasoning and participation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 112(3), 417-419.
  • Conlin, L.D., Kuo, E., & Hallinen, N.R. (2019). How null results can be significant for physics education research. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 15(2), 020104.
  • Kuo, E., Hallinen, N.R., & Conlin, L.D. (2017). When procedures discourage insight: Epistemological consequences of prompting novice physics students to construct force diagrams. International Journal of Science Education, 39(7), 814-839.
  • Kuo, E. & Wieman, C.E. (2016). Toward instructional design principles: inducing Faraday's law with contrasting cases. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 12(1), 010128.
  • Kuo, E. & Wieman, C.E. (2015). Seeking instructional specificity: an example from analogical instruction. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 11(2), 020133.
  • Redish, E.F. & Kuo, E. (2015). Language of physics, language of math: Disciplinary culture and dynamic epistemology. Science and Education, 24(5-6), 561-590.
  • Hull, M., Kuo, E., Gupta, A., & Elby, A. (2013). Problem-solving rubrics revisited: Attending to the blending of informal conceptual and formal mathematical reasoning. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 9(1), 010105.
  • Kuo, E., Hull, M.M., Gupta, A., & Elby, A. (2013). How students blend conceptual and formal mathematical reasoning in solving physics problems. Science Education, 97(1), 32-57.

Related news

  • Education

Eric’s physics classroom is a place for investing in the future as much as it is for excelling in the moment. As a veteran teacher who has taught everything from introductory physics to mathematics and college-level courses, he uses his twenty years of experience to help students construct a scaffolding that can support and ground their own valuable experiences. At the heart of Eric’s teaching philosophy is a desire to give students a space where they can take charge of their own learning. He says, “I want to let my students become adults, to do their homework not for my sake but for the sake of learning and the discipline of wanting to better themselves.”

  • Education

IPaSS program fellow Jill discusses her commitment to teaching physics through hands-on projects, adjusting to remote instruction and being inspired by Interactive Online Labs developed at the University of Illinois

  • Education

The Physics Education Research (PER) group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received a $2.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to improve the quality and accessibility of high school physics courses across the State of Illinois through a new program called the Illinois Physics and Secondary Schools (IPaSS) Partnership Program. The IPaSS program already kicked off its first intensive summer institute in mid-June, welcoming a small cohort of four physics teachers. The number of teachers in the IPaSS program will expand incrementally each year over the four years of grant funding, maxing out at 40 Illinois physics teachers.

The goal of the new program will be to provide high school students across the state with the highest quality high school physics experience, engaging students’ interest in STEM fields and preparing them to succeed at competitive research institutions like the U of I. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math—fields the U.S. government has recognized are a high educational priority for a strong tech-field workforce. The program will not only help align existing high school physics courses with university-level expectations, but will also provide support for under-resourced high schools to offer physics courses for the first time.