Mel S. Sabella

Professor of Physics

Mel Sabella

Dr. Mel S. Sabella


B.S., State University of New York at Binghamton
Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park
Postdoctoral, University of Washington, Seattle

Research Interests

Physics Education Research, Investigating student problem solving and conceptual understanding, identifying the specific needs and resources of the urban student, curriculum development, preparation of pre and inservice teachers.

Recent Presentations and Publications

The role of community and professionalism in the preparation of physics teachers for the urban learning environment, Sabella, M. S., Passehl, J., & Weisenburger, K. to be presented at the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Summer Conference, Philadelphia, PA July 28-August 1, 2012.

A collaboration between university and high school in preparing physics teachers: Chicago State University's Teacher Immersion Institute,

Sabella, M. S., Van Duzor, A. G., Passehl, J., & Weisenburger, K.. 2012, The Physics Teacher, 50(5), 296-300.

The cultural toolkit of physics students on the Southside of Chicago, Sabella, M. Presentation for Florida International University PER Seminar, Miami, FL, April 2012.

Implementing PhysTEC at an Urban Comprehensive University, Sabella, M. Presented at Spring 2011 PhysTEC Conference, Austin Tex

 Using Physics Education Research to Build an Understanding of Student Thinking, Sabella, M. presented at MRSEC education directors meeting in Chicago, IL.  Septmeber 2011.

Preparing urban students to teach in the urban classroom: Chicago State University's PhysTEC Program, Sabella, M., Van Duzor, A. G., & American Physical Society, 2011, (

What We Learned by Moving Beyond Content Knowledge and Diversifying Our Research Agenda, Sabella, M. 2010 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings (AIP, NY)

Using the resources of the student at the urban, comprehensive university to develop an effective instructional environment, Sabella, M. S., Coble, K., and Bowen S. P., 2008 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings (AIP, NY).

Understanding and Encouraging Effective Collaboration in Introductory Physics Courses, Cochran, G. L. and Sabella M.S., 2008 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings (AIP, NY).

Examining the Effectiveness of Clickers on Promoting Learning by Tracking the Evolution of Student Responses, Watkins, E. P. and Sabella, M.S. 2008 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings (AIP, NY).

Implementing research–based instructional materials to promote coherence in physics knowledge for the urban STEM student, Sabella M.S. and Barr S.A., 2008 Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education (2008).

Providing support to inner-city students and teachers through the Physics Van Inservice Institute, Sabella, M.S., Phys Teach. 45, 80-84 (2007).

Knowledge organization and activation in physics problem-solving, Sabella, M.S. and Redish, E. F., Phys. Educ. Res., Am. J. Phys. Suppl. 75, 1017 (2007).


Past President, Chicago Section of the AAPT

Member of Forum on Education, APS

Member of Committee on Minorities, APS

Member of Planning Committee for Chicago Symposium Series on Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and Science

Physics Assessment Coordinator, CSU

Recent Invited talks

American Association of Physics Teachers Meeting, Physics Education Research Conference, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign  

Recent Grants and Funding

2010, PI, PhysTEC- $74,838 - "Physics Teacher Education Coalition Pilot Site at Chicago State University" (National Science Foundation/ American Physical Society, 2010-2013.

2009, Co-PI, NSF- $133,625 - Supplemental for Noyce Internship Support "Establishing a Supportive Environment for the Recruitment, Preparation, and Retention of the Urban Science Teacher" (National Science Foundation, 2009-2013)

2008-Co-PI, NSF- $670,962 - Establishing a Supportive Environment for the Recruitment, Preparation, and Retention of the Urban Science Teacher, (National Science Foundation, 2008-2013)

2007- Creating Innovative Physics Learning Environments in the Urban Classroom (National Science Foundation: CCLI, 0632563, 2007-2009)

2006- Creating Research-Based Single Concept Question Sequences for In-Class Polling Systems (National Science Foundation: CCLI, 0618128, 2006-2009)