- Ph.D. in Physics, 1999, University of Washington.
- MS in Physics, 1993, University of Washington.
- BS in Physics, 1991 (cum laude), Yale University.
- Associate Professor of Physics, Grand Valley State University, 2005 to Present.
- Assistant Professor of Physics, Grand Valley State University, 1999 to 2005.
- Research Associate, University of Washington, 1999.
- Research Assistant, University of Washington, 1992 to 1999.
According to an oft-quoted proverb, Tell me and I will forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand. As a teacher I focus not so much on what I tell students but on what they do. Whenever possible I incorporate a variety of inquiry-based teaching practices, so that students make direct observations of physical phenomena, draw inferences from their observations (whether qualitative or quantitative), and, as necessary, refine their with my assistance and the assistance of their peers. This kind of learning environment places student in the drivers seat and can allow meaningful learning to occur, whether the students are physics majors, pre-service teachers, or non-science majors.
My research focus is physics education research (PER), or the research in the teaching and learning of physics. I conduct in-depth investigations of student conceptual understanding and reasoning ability, with my particular focus being in advanced courses like intermediate mechanics and quantum physics. I incorporate the results from this research and other PER work to the development of innovative teaching materials and the adaptation of existing PER-based curricula.
For research and instructional materials related to ongoing work in intermediate mechanics, follow this link: "Tutorials in Intermediate Mechanics"
Research with Undergraduates
- K. Barber: Student learning of wave mechanics through an inquiry-based approach, 2011.
- E. Michel: Effectiveness of structured learning assistance instruction in rotational kinematics, 2010.
- B. Farlow: Making connections: Investigating the effectiveness of laboratory instruction techniques on student conceptual understanding of DC resistive circuits, 2009.
- K. Pachla: Graphic organizers as assessment tools for the physics teacher, 2008.
- T. Major: Exploring student understanding of equations through the conservation of energy, 2008.
- C. Carabulea: Experimental modal analysis of an acoustic guitar, 2005 (with Dr. Karen Gipson).
- K. Trebesh: Investigating student understanding of Newton’s laws in relation to fluids, 2004.
- N. Immekus Assessing student learning in the introductory physics laboratory: Friction and conservation of linear momentum, Sumer 2003 (Summer Student Scholars grant).
- B. S. Ambrose, “Learning about student learning in intermediate mechanics: Using research to improve instruction,” Physics Education Research Conference-2009, ed. C. Henderson, M. Sabella, and C. Singh, AIP Conference Proceedings 1179, American Institute of Physics, Melville, NY, 2009, pp. 3 – 6.
- W. Christian and B.S. Ambrose, “An introduction to the theme double-issue,” Am. J. Phys. 76, 293 – 295 (2008). (Introduction and guest editorial to the special theme issue of the American Journal of Physics published in conjunction with the 2008 Gordon Research Conference.)
- B.S. Ambrose, “Probing student reasoning and intuitions in intermediate mechanics: An example with linear oscillations,” Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings, 2006, ed. L. McCullough, L. Hsu, and P. Heron, AIP Conference Proceedings.
- J. R. Thompson and B.S. Ambrose, “A literary canon in physics education research,” APS Forum on Education Newsletter, Fall 2005, ed. K. Cummings.
- B.S. Ambrose, “A repeat performance? Challenges in developing robust conceptual understanding among advanced students,” Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings, 2004, ed. J. Marx, S. Franklin, and P. Heron, AIP Conference Proceedings.
- B.S. Ambrose, "Investigating student understanding in intermediate mechanics: Identifying the need for a tutorial approach to instruction", Am. J. Phys. Vol. 72, 453459 (2004).
- S. Vokos, P.S. Shaffer, B.S. Ambrose, L.C. McDermott, "Student understanding of the wave properties of matter: Diffraction and interference of particles", Phys. Ed. Res., Am. J. Phys. Suppl. 68, S42 S51 (2000).
- B.S. Ambrose, P.R.L. Heron, S. Vokos, L.C. McDermott, "Student understanding of light as an EM wave: Relating the formalism to physical phenomena," Am. J. Phys. Vol. 67, 891 898 (1999).
- B.S. Ambrose, P.S. Shaffer, R.N. Steinberg, L.C. McDermott, "An investigation of student understanding of single-slit diffraction and double-slit interference", Am. J. Phys. Vol. 67, 146 155 (1999).
Recent Invited Presentations
- Physics Education Research Conference, August 4, 2011 Omaha, NE Targeted poster: “Assessing student learning and teaching effectiveness in intermediate mechanics,” part of targeted poster session: “Formative and Summative Assessment in Upper-Level Physics.”
- Physics Colloquium, Rochester Institute of Technology, May 3, 2011 Rochester, NY Invited seminar: “Using research to improve learning in upper division physics courses: An example in intermediate mechanics.”
- APS National Meeting, March 22, 2011 Dallas, TX: Invited paper in session on Physics Education Research in Upper Division Physics Courses: “Using research to enhance student learning in intermediate mechanics.”
- College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Teaching Showcase Allendale, MI GVSU, November 22, 2010: Invited roundtable discussion: “Using inquiry methods to improve learning in upper division science courses: An example in advanced mechanics.”
- AAPT Summer National Meeting, July 2010 Portland, OR: Invited panelist presentation: “A research-tested tutorial approach to teach intermediate mechanics,” as part of a panel session: “Interactive Methods for Teaching Mechanics: Tutorials, Computation, and Experimentation.”
- Joint APS-AAPT National Meeting, February 15, 2010 Washington, DC: Invited paper: “Using research to enhance student learning in intermediate mechanics.”
- Physics Colloquium, DePaul University, September 30, 2009 Chicago, IL: Invited seminar: “Because physics majors have conceptual difficulties too: Development of a tutorial approach to teaching intermediate mechanics.”
- Physics Education Research Conference, July 30, 2009 Ann Arbor, MI : Targeted poster TP-A2: “Learning about student learning in intermediate mechanics: Using research to improve instruction,” part of targeted poster session TP-A: “Cognitive Issues in Upper-Level Physics Education Research.”
- Joint Texas APS-AAPT Section Meeting, April 4, 2009 Tarleton, TX: Plenary presentation: “Because physics majors have conceptual difficulties too: Development of a tutorial approach to teaching intermediate mechanics.”
- APS National Meeting, March 16, 2009 Pittsburgh, PA: Invited paper in session on Computational Physics in Research and Teaching: GRC Themes and Topics: “Innovations in teaching with computers: What works, what doesn’t, and how we can tell.”
- Joint AAAS-AAPT National Meeting, February 16, 2009 Chicago, IL: With M. Wittmann (University of Maine), invited paper: “Connecting physics and mathematics: Probing student learning in intermediate mechanics.”
- Foundations and Frontiers in Physics Education Research Conference, Bar Harbor, ME August 2007.
Targeted poster: “Examining the ‘many paths’ toward quantum mechanics: Probing student thinking about probability.”
- GVSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Sabbatical Showcase, April 2007 Allendale, MI.
Invited poster: “Assessing and refining an inquiry-based approach to teach intermediate mechanics.”
- Physics Colloquium, Western Michigan University, October 2006 Kalamazoo, MI Invited seminar: “Because physics majors encounter conceptual difficulties too: Refining an inquiry-based approach to teach intermediate mechanics.”
- College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Research Colloquium GVSU, September 2006 Allendale, MI
Invited paper: “Because physics majors encounter conceptual difficulties too: Refining an inquiry-based approach to teach intermediate mechanics”
- Physics Education Research Conference, July 2006 Syracuse, NY With C. Singh (U. Pittsburgh), co-organizer for targeted poster session TP-C: “Investigations of Student Learning in Upper Division Courses that Link Physics, Chemistry, and Engineering” Targeted poster TP-C1: “Probing student understanding of intermediate mechanics and its applications: An example with linear oscillations”
- B.S. Ambrose, Utilizing tutorials to investigate and enhance student learning in intermediate mechanics, Invited paper at the AAPT Summer National Meeting, Salt Lake City, UT, August 2005.
- B.S. Ambrose, Challenges in enhancing student learning in intermediate mechanics: Identifying the need for a tutorial approach to instruction, Invited paper at the APS National Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, March 2005.
Grants & Other Awards
- Consultant support from NSF CCLI Phase II Grant (2011 – 2013): “Developing Research-Based Tutorials in Upper-division Electricity and Magnetism” Project directors: S. Pollock and K. Perkins (Univ. Colorado-Boulder). Development and assessment of inquiry-based materials for the teaching of upper-level electromagnetism.
- 2009 GVSU Presidential Teaching Initiative Award: “Curricular revision of SCI 225 Integrated Life Science for K-8 Teachers and SCI 226 Integrated Physical Science for K-8 Teachers” With other members of the GVSU Integrated Science Program Faculty. Revitalization of integrated science courses designed for pre-service K-8 teachers who are non-science majors.
- 2006 GVSU Pew Teaching Excellence Award - One of six awards in 2006 given to faculty to recognize outstanding teachers across the university.
- NSF CCLI-EMD Grant DUE-0441426 (2005 – 2007): “Developing a Tutorial Approach to Enhance Student Learning of Intermediate Mechanics” Collaborative project with M. Wittmann (Univ. of Maine), totaling approx. $75,000. Development and preliminary assessment of inquiry-based materials for the teaching of upper-level mechanics.
- Regional AAPT Meeting for Michigan Section, April 16, 2011 Allendale, MI
Workshop: “Using guided inquiry to improve learning in intermediate mechanics”
- AAPT Summer National Meeting, July 29, 2009 Ann Arbor, MI With M. Wittmann (University of Maine), Dawn Meredith (University of New Hampshire), and Carrie Swift (University of Michigan-Dearborn), panel session GE: “Tutorials in Intermediate Mechanics”
- CESME Workshop on Learning by Inquiry in Science and Grand Rapids, MI Mathematics, August 2008 Workshop: “Teaching college-level physics more effectively: Connecting research to practice.”
- AAPT National Meeting, July 2008 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Invited session/tutorial: “Tutorials in Intermediate Mechanics”
- Michigan Science Teachers Association Meeting, March 2008 Lansing, MI, College Strand Day workshop: “Some lessons learned from physics education research”
- National Science Teachers Association Meeting, October 2007 Detroit, MI with C. Henderson (Western Michigan University), Physics Strand Day workshop: “How can physics education research help me teach more effectively?”
- First Midwest Symposium on Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and Science, Chicago, IL October 2007 Breakout session/workshop: “Using research to improve student learning in upper division physics: An example in intermediate mechanics.”
- President, Michigan Section of AAPT, 2011 – Present.
- First Vice President, Michigan Section of AAPT, 2010 – 2011, including Program Chair for Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 MiAAPT Meetings .
- Second Vice President, Michigan Section of AAPT, 2009-2010.
- Co-chair, 2008 Gordon Research Conference, Physics Research and Education: Computation and Computer-based Instruction, 2006 – 2008.
- Co-vice chair, 2006 Gordon Research Conference, Physics Research and Education: Electromagnetism, 2004 – 2006.
- American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)
- Michigan Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (MiAAPT)
- American Physical Society (APS)