TTU Physics: Faculty
Beth ThackerAssociate Professor of Physics
Office Phone: (806) 742-2996
Office: 15 Science Building
Ph.D. Theoretical Physics, Cornell University (1990)
M.S. Physics, Cornell University (1986)
B.S. Physics, Davidson College (1980)
I do research of students’ qualitative and quantitative understanding of physics concepts in courses taught by traditional and non-traditional methods and students' understanding of topics in modern physics and quantum mechanics. Recently, I was a Principal Investigator on a Large-Scale Assessment Project at Texas Tech University (TTU), that included systematic and comprehensive assessment of all of the introductory undergraduate courses at TTU, utilizing conceptual inventories, free response pre-/post-testing, and TA evaluation inventories. We found that when PER-informed materials and instruction are introduced in the labs and recitations, independent of the lecture style, there is an increase in students’ conceptual inventory and free-response gains. There is also an increase in those gains if PER-informed instruction is used in the lecture. The highest gain increase is achieved (in both conceptual inventories and free-response pre-/post-tests) by the combination of PER-informed lectures and laboratories in large class settings and by PER-informed hands-on, laboratory-based, inquiry-based courses (past of a curriculum designed for health science majors) taught in a small class setting. I am presently working on the development of a “Bridge” course for graduate students. It is a course designed for students who need some extra work at a level between upper-level undergraduate and core graduate courses before taking the core courses. I am also working on assessment instruments that go beyond conceptual inventories and are designed to assess mathematical, laboratory and thinking skills, in addition to conceptual understanding.
Beth Thacker, Hani Dulli, Dave Pattillo, and Keith West, “Lessons from a Large-Scale Assessment: Results from Conceptual Inventories,” Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 10, 020104 (2014). (https://journals.aps.org/prstper/pdf/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.10.020104)
Beth Thacker, “A Study of the Nature of Students’ Models of Microscopic Processes in the Context of Modern Physics Experiments,” Am. J. of Phys. 71 (6), 599-606 (2003).
Beth Thacker, “Recent advances in classroom physics,” Rep. Prog. Phys. 66, 1833 – 1864 (2003).
Beth Thacker, Suzanne M. Lea, Eunsook Kim and Kelvin Trefz, “Comparing Problem Solving Performance of Physics Students in Inquiry-Based and Traditional Physics Courses,” Am. J. Phys. 62 (7), 627-633 (1994).
B. A. Thacker and G. P. Lepage, “Heavy Quark Bound States in Lattice QCD,” Phys. Rev. D 43, 196 (1991).