Huntsville, Ala. ---- A current physics professor and former dean at Alabama A&M University was recently recognized by peers for his provoking presentation on innovative ways to teach fundamental physics courses.
Dr. Matthew E. Edwards traveled to Orlando, Fla., July 9-12, 2013, to deliver a paper during the 3rd International Symposium on Integrating Research, Education
and Problem Solving, part of a conglomerate of hard science gatherings held concurrently. Edwards’ presentation emphasized the importance of “richer contextualization teaching” in the classroom, in relationship to the comprehension of abstract physics concepts.
When Edwards isn’t busy conducting research in pyroelectrics, dielectrics and sol-gel properties of materials for application in sensors and waveguides, or even advising undergraduates, master’s and doctoral students, he still manages to devote time to research on the efficacy of teaching physics. Edwards also facilitates as director and is a principal investigator for the Interdisciplinary Center for Health Sciences, Health Disparities and Materials in connection with present funding from an Evans-Allen research grant through the College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences.
“Faculty members are critical to the learning process and can enhance their skills to deliver information in ways for students to obtain and integrate the information taught,” says Dr. Edwards. “Because physics has a lot of abstract or difficult concepts, it is paramount that the physics teacher know when and where 'learning convergences' will occur in the class and have skills to address them." A learning convergence can occur, for instance, when many mathematical equations are used together.
Edwards calls his paper a compilation of more than “25 years of study on physics education.” His findings have not only been shared with colleagues during presentations for AAMU’s Centers for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, but also during a 2012 spring session of the Alabama Academy of Science. These presentations only honed his delivery before the larger, four-day meeting of the 17th World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics.
More than 500 physicists, mathematicians, engineers and interdisciplinary educators attended the joint conferences, notes Edwards. And, while the African-American physicist admits that minority persons and women are equally capable throughout the STEM disciplines, he would like to see greater minority participation at similar conferences in the future.
Dr. Edwards is married to Mrs. Glenda Robinson Edwards of Bogalusa, La.
- Jerome Saintjones