Texas Tech University

Beth Thacker, Ph.D

Associate Professor
Department of Physics and Astronomy

Email: Beth.Thacker@ttu.edu

Phone: (806) 834-2996

Office: 15 Science Building

Ph.D. Theoretical Physics, Cornell University (1990)

M.S. Physics, Cornell University (1986)

B.S. Physics, Davidson College (1980)

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Research Interests

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 (part of a curriculum designed for health science majors) taught in a small class setting. I am presently working on expanding the inquiry-based course to a larger classroom, including LA training and assessment and analysis and assessment of students' thinking skills. I am also restarting my research in modern physics and quantum mechanics.  

Selected Publications

  • Beth Thacker, Ganesh Chapagain, Vanelet Rusuriye, and Keith West, “Beyond Conceptual Inventories: Lessons from a Large-Scale Assessment,” US-China Education Review A, January 2017, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1-26. (https://www.davidpublisher.com/Public/uploads/Contribute/58e48ceff3b6a.pdf)
  • 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).

Department of Physics and Astronomy