Primary Research Area
- Physics Education
- Ph.D., Physics, Univ. Massachusetts, 1979
Professor Mestre received bachelor's and PhD degrees in physics from the University of Massachusetts in 1974 and 1979, respectively, and spent his entire career until 2005, at the University of Massachusetts, rising rapidly through the ranks from research associate to full professor.
He came to Urbana in August 2005, as a full professor of physics and of educational psychology. Although trained as a nuclear physicist, his academic interests evolved more than 30 years ago to the questions of how students learn physics. He is a distinguished scholar of physics learning and arguably among the most highly regarded researchers in the field of physics education in the United States. He has adapted tools from cognitive and educational psychology to investigate forefront issues in problem solving and the development of scientific knowledge, and how those are conveyed in instruction.
For more information
My research focuses on the organization and deployment of physics knowledge by experts and novices. In my research, I address questions such as: What is the mechanism by which a beginner develops expertise in a complex domain such as physics? Why is it that the problem solving skills for traditional textbook physics problems often develop faster than conceptual understanding? Why is appropriate transfer of knowledge, even across the same domain and across remarkably similar contexts, so difficult to achieve?
In the future, I plan to continue applying experimental techniques common in cognitive science to learn more fine-grained information about the nature of expertise, learning, and problem solving in the sciences.
Selected Articles in Journals
- **Nokes-Malach, T.J. & Mestre, J.P. (2013). Toward a model of transfer as sense-making. Educational Psychologist, 48 (#3) 184-207.
- Docktor, J.L, Mestre, J.P. & Ross, B.H. (2012). Impact of a short intervention on novices' categorization criteria. Physical Review-Special Topics: Physics Education Research, 8 (#2) 020102 (11 pages).
- Christianson, K., Mestre, J.P., & Luke, S.G. (2012). Practice makes (nearly) perfect: Solving "students & professors"-type problems. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 26, 810-822.
- Brookes, D.T., Ross, B.H. & Mestre, J.P. (2011). Specificity, transfer, and the development of expertise. Physical Review-Special Topics: Physics Education Research, 7(#1) 010105 (8 pages).
- Smith, A.D., Mestre, J.P., & Ross, B.H. (2010). Eye-gaze patterns as students study worked-out examples in mechanics. Physical Review-Special Topics: Physics Education Research, 6(#2) 020118 (9 pages).
- Feil, A. & Mestre, J. (2010). Change Blindness as a Means of Studying Expertise in Physics. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19(#4), 480-505.
- Stelzer, T., Gladding, G., Mestre, J. & Brookes, D.T. (2009). Comparing the efficacy of multimedia modules with traditional textbooks for learning introductory physics content. American Journal of Physics, 77(#2), 184-190 (2009).
- Thaden-Koch, T., Dufresne, R. & Mestre, J. Coordination of knowledge in judging animated motion. Physical Review Special Topics: Physics Education Research, 2(#2) 020107 (11 pages) (2006).
- W. J. Leonard, R. J. Dufresne, and J. P. Mestre. Using qualitative problem-solving strategies to highlight the role of conceptual knowledge in solving problems. American Journal of Physics, 64, 1495-1503 (1996).
- Selected Fellow of the American Physical Society, 2010
Public Service Honors
- National Academies Education Mentor in the Life Sciences, National Academy of Sciences, 2008-2013.
- Chancellor's Medal recipient, for exemplary & extraordinary service to the Univ. of Massachusetts, 2001