David R. Sokoloff

Department of Physics

1274 University of Oregon

Eugene, OR 97403-1274

541-221-6543       sokoloff@uoregon.edu


David R. Sokoloff was the winner of the 2007 Robert A. Millikan award of the American Association of Physics Teachers for “notable and creative contributions to the teaching of physics.” He was elected President of the American Association of Physics Teachers in 2008, and completed the four-year leadership cycle, serving as President in 2011. He was awarded the 2010 Excellence in Physics Education Award by the American Physical Society (with Priscilla Laws, Ronald Thornton and the Activity Based Physics Group.) In 2011, he and the Active Learning in Optics and Photonics workshop team were awarded the SPIE Educator Award. In 2011, he was also a Fulbright Specialist in Argentina, and was awarded the Latin American Physics Education Network (LAPEN) Medal.


He is Professor of Physics, Emeritus at the University of Oregon. He began his studies of physics at Queens College of the City University of New York, and went on to earn his Ph.D. in AMO physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972 under Ali Javan. Prior to his current position, he was a faculty member at Western Illinois University and University of Michigan, Dearborn. He has held visiting positions at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Tufts University, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, and Universidad Nacional de San Luis, San Luis, Argentina, and spent a year as Science Director of WISTEC, the hands-on science center in Eugene, Oregon.


His physics curriculum development work and extensive dissemination efforts are nationally and internationally recognized. For over two decades, he has conducted research into students' understandings of physics, and used the results of this research to develop active learning approaches to enhance student understanding in introductory physics courses. These new curricula—which were developed with longtime colleagues Ronald Thornton and Priscilla Laws—include the four modules of RealTime Physics: Active Learning Laboratories (RTP) and Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (ILDs), both of which are published by John Wiley and Sons. (RTP is now in its Third Edition.) These curricula make heavy use of computer-based laboratory tools for data collection and analysis, were developed with support from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education, and are used extensively at the university, college and high school levels. More recent curricula make research-validated use of video analysis and of personal response systems (“clickers”). He is currently working on an NSF-funded project to develop active learning lab activities for distance learning using the IOLab device. He has conducted numerous national and local institutes and workshops to disseminate these active learning approaches to college-level and secondary teachers, with support from these agencies, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and local sources.


Since 1999, he has been part of a UNESCO team presenting active learning workshops in developing countries. Active Learning in Optics and Photonics (ALOP) workshops have been presented in Ghana, Tunisia (2), Morocco, India, Tanzania, Brazil, Mexico (2), Zambia, Cameroon, Colombia, Nepal (2), Chile, Algeria, The Philippines, Rwanda, Armenia, Thailand, Ethiopia, Georgia, Indonesia, Mauritius, South Africa, Bolivia and Panama. He is the editor of Active Learning in Optics and Photonics, the training manual published by UNESCO for use in these workshops. Besides selected activities from RTP and ILDs, his contributions to this manual include a series of optics magic tricks that he has used to teach optics concepts at the college level, to the public, to his son’s fourth grade class and to first and fourth graders in Australia. He has also presented active learning workshops on optics and other topics in physics in Chile, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, The Philippines, Argentina, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Vietnam, Korea, China, Sri Lanka and throughout the U.S.


Selected Publications:


David R. Sokoloff, “Active Learning of Introductory Light and Optics,” Phys. Teach. 54: 1, 18 (2016).


David R. Sokoloff, Ronald K. Thornton and Priscilla W. Laws, RealTime Physics Module 1: Mechanics, Module 2: Heat and Thermodynamics, Module 3: Electricity and Magnetism, and Module 4: Light and Optics, 3rd Edition (Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley and Sons, 2012).


David R. Sokoloff, Ronald K. Thornton and Priscilla W. Laws, “RealTime Physics: Active Learning Labs Transforming the Introductory Laboratory,” Eur. J. of Phys., 28 (2007), S83-S94.


Active Learning in Optics and Photonics Training Manual, David R. Sokoloff, ed., (Paris, UNESCO, 2006). (Version Franćaise, 2008.)


David R. Sokoloff and Ronald K. Thornton, Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley and Sons, 2004)


Ronald K. Thornton and David R. Sokoloff, "Assessing Student Learning of Newton's Laws: The Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation and the Evaluation of Active Learning Laboratory and Lecture Curricula," American Journal of Physics 66, 338-352 (1998).


David R. Sokoloff and Ronald K. Thornton, "Using Interactive Lecture Demonstrations to Create an Active Learning Environment, "The Physics Teacher 35: 6, 340 (1997).