Academics: Faculty

Spelman College Graduates with President Beverly Daniel Tatum

Paul J. Camp, Ph.D.

Physics Department
Spelman College
Atlanta, GA 30314
Phone: 404-270-5864

I have degrees from the University of South Carolina, University of Michigan, and Georgia Institute of Technology, with a Ph.D. in general relativity and quantum gravity.

After my first teaching job, I joined the Learning by Design team at Georgia Tech as a research scientist. We developed project-based middle school science curricula, which we then used as an environment in which to study in detail the development of scientific reasoning skills in middle school children. So I gradually moved from a focus on relativity into physics education, with an emphasis on using cognitive and developmental psychology to understand how people learn physics.

I was the first to document the existence of U-shaped development (a pattern of temporary performance regression when developing a new physics skill). Since joining the physics department at Spelman, I have been part of a department-wide effort to refocus our curriculum away from the traditional structures and more toward developing our students as independent learners, able to identify an interesting question and design and carry out an investigation to discover the answer to it.

As part of that effort, I have been working on the problem of transferring the idea of Learning by Design to the college environment, as well as investigating the development of scientific reading skills, since the ability to extract new knowledge from what one has read is the hallmark of an independent learner.

"The beauty of the cosmos derives not only from unity in variety but also from variety in unity"  
-- Umberto Eco, "The Name of the Rose"