Ronald K. Thornton

Ronald Thornton Bio and Photo

Director & Professor
Tufts University
Center for Science & Math Teaching
4 Colby St.
Medford, MA 02155


Background Information

Ronald K. Thornton (Tufts University) holds a Ph.D. from Brown University in High Energy Physics. He is Director of the Tufts Center for Science and Mathematics Teaching and a professor in both Physics and Education. He has been a visiting professor at the Universities of Sydney, Rome, Naples, and Pavia. He does research on student learning and has co-authored the RealTime Physics and the Tools for Scientific Thinking laboratory curricula and Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (ILDs). He has led the development of the Tools for Scientific Thinking Microcomputer-based Laboratory (MBL) software and hardware, and the LoggerPro, Visualizer, and WebILD software packages. He has developed student and teacher conceptual understanding evaluations including the Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation (FMCE). These materials, developed with support from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education, F.I.P.S.E., are used extensively, in many countries, in universities, colleges and schools.
He has led teaching workshops for physics professors, K-12 teachers, and teacher educators around the world and is an author of the Teacher Education Module. Among his awards, Professor Thornton received the 1993 Dana award for Pioneering Achievement in Education and the 1992 Smithsonian/ Computerworld Leadership in Education Award. He has twice been chair of the National Committee on Research in Physics Education of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). His work in energy (solar, energy design & efficiency, energy monitoring, energy education) has won two state awards and the National Award for Energy Innovation from the US Department of Energy.

Related Pedagogical Projects

We are involved in a significant number of projects to reform the teaching of physics and science from grade school through the university. The projects involve curriculum development, pedagogical tools, web-based delivery, pedagogical methods, and research into how people learn.