Physics Alumni Profile
James Vander Weide (1996)
Physics, Education -Higher Education
James Vander Weide earned his B.S. in Mathematics & B.S. in Physics from GVSU in 1996.
Since his sophomore year in high school Jim knew he wanted to be a teacher. To pursue that career he joined the Unites States Air Force to help with college costs. He served four years in the USAF and an additional six years in the Air National Guard. In the Fall of 1989 he began his education at GVSU as a mathematics major, but after taking a few physics courses he changed to a double major in mathematics and physics.
After teaching for a year on the east side of the state, Jim began teaching physics in the Fall of 1997 at Rockford High School. In the Summer of 2004, Jim received a call from Hudsonville High School asking him to revitalize their physics program, and to date he has helped double the numbers of regular and AP physics sections offered there. Jim attributes his success as a teacher to the education received at GVSU, the methods of instruction learned through research done on student learning, and the knowledge obtained about using inquiry-based learning as opposed to lecturing.
Jim has served as an AP Reader (AP Physics test grader) since 2004 and has been a Table Leader (in charge of a group of readers) since 2009. In addition, Jim has been a member of the AP Physics C Test Development Committee since 2011. He has participated in reviewing modules for the College Board as well as writing labs for the AP Physics B redesign. Jim is actively involved with a research project through the Van Andel Education Institute in Grand Rapids, MI that is focused on getting students to think more like scientists via the avenue of using inquiry learning. Jim earned his Masters in Physics Education in 2002 with an emphasis in Physics Education Research (PER) and since then has been working to improve his inquiry-based teaching style. Jim was chosen by the Department of Physics, GVSU as their Distinguished Alumni in 2008.
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