Physics Education Research at UCF is led by two tenure-track assistant professors. Both Dr. Jackie Chini and Dr. Zhongzhou Chen received their Ph.D.s in physics for research in physics education. We study issues relevant to the evolving landscape of higher education in physics and collaborate with colleagues in related disciplines.

Dr. Jackie Chini’s group examines how to adapt active learning strategies for diverse student populations and institutional contexts. She has received funding through the NSF-WIDER program to study diverse implementations of SCALE-UP across the country and through the NSF-IUSE program to study the efficacy of popular active learning strategies for students with executive function disorders, common among students with ADHD, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder and student veterans.

Dr. Zhongzhou Chen is interested in combining online education technology with learning science to shape the future of STEM education. Collaborating with the Center for Distributed Learning at UCF (, he designs and develops online learning modules based on the concept of deliberate practice. He is also interested in measuring and modeling the fundamental cognitive process behind physics problem solving.

Many other faculty, including both tenure-line faculty and lecturers, work on physics education research projects and have interest in improving physics education.

  • Dr. Ahlam Al-Rawi formed the Physics Education Research by Lecturers (PERL) group at UCF. Lecturers at UCF teach many of our large courses, so they are able to collect data from large samples. The members of PERL have PhDs in physics for research in a variety of disciplines, which enables them to connect with a wide array of student interests and difficulties. Dr. Al-Rawi is also interested in implementing and creating curriculum for student-centered learning and leads the department’s Outreach Committee and Student Life Committees. Her interests lie in using interdisciplinary thinking to attract more students to science and in supporting integration of all students in departmental research opportunities.
  • Dr. Jeffrey Bindell was one of the leaders of the revival of SCALE-UP/studio-mode instruction in introductory physics at UCF. He is interested in assessing student learning across very different instructional strategies, such as comparing lecture-based and project-based introductory courses.
  • Dr. Enrique Del Barco was an iSTEM Faculty Fellow in 2015-2016. He has recently led the creation of a service-learning nanoscience minor, a physics summer camp (PHySICOS), and a Physical Science capstone research program for undergraduates. His educational activities focus on increasing enrollment, reducing attrition and facilitating transition into the profession in STEM fields.
  • Dr. Archana Dubey was part of the team that reinvigorated SCALE-UP/studio physics at UCF. She is interested in improving student learning in introductory and modern physics. She has presented talks and posters about scaffolding students’ problem solving with multi-part problems in Physics II.
  • Costas Efthimiou was a co-PI on UCF’s ICUBED (Innovations through Institutional Integration) NSF-funded project.
  • Dr. Elena Flitsiyan is interested in incorporating service-learning in the physics curriculum and using technology to enhance learning. In first semester calculus-based physics, her students completed the service-learning project “Physics of the Car Accident: Building a Safe Campus by Solving Physics Problems”.
  • Dr. Talat Rahman was awarded an American Physical Society (APS) Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) grant to improve physics teacher recruitment and education.
  • Dr. Christos Velisarris is a member of PERL. His general education science course “Physics in Films” uses scenes from movies to motivate students to learn about physical science