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Bob asked about Hestenes' papers and PER articles in general.
Well, here is my take but I must warn you that I'm a believer :-).
I think that Hestenes (and his co-workers) has done fundamental
work in PER so his papers might well be worth reading. If hard
pressed I'd recommend the following papers (they can be retrieved
I. Halloun and D. Hestenes, The Initial Knowledge State of
College Physics Students, Am. J. Phys. 53, 1043-1055 (1985).
D. Hestenes, M. Wells, and G. Swackhamer, Force Concept Inventory, The Physics Teacher .
D. Hestenes and M. Wells, A Mechanics Baseline Test,
The Physics Teacher. 30: 159-165 (1992).
However, a general introduction to PER might be a good starting point. Here are a few books which I think are well suited for
Randall D. Knight (2004): Five Easy Lessons: Strategies for Successful Physics Teaching.
-- Perhaps the easiest choice for a newcomer
Edward F. Redish (2003): Teaching Physics with Physics Suite.
This book is available on-line in <http://www2.physics.umd.edu/~redish/Book/>.
-- attached CD ROM is useful so if you like the book chapters
above it might be worth bying the real thing (it is not expensive
Eric Mazur (1997): Peer Instruction. This book can be retrieved
-- this is a classic; some people might find this quite
Arnold B. Arons (1997): Teaching Introductory Physics.
-- this is worth reading for many times! Some info and opinions available in <http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Introductory-Physics-Arnold-Arons/dp/0471137073>
Finally, I'd like to note that many if not all the above
mentioned authors have done real physics research as well as
physics teaching. Of course, they have done original PER work.
So these people are no "arm-chair theorists". It is also
worth remembering that the physics involved in the listed
sources is mostly introductory physics.
I hope this helps.
Antti Savinainen, Ph.D., B.Ed.
Senior Lecturer in Physics and Mathematics
Kuopio Lyseo High School