Vincent Coletta profile photo

Vincent Coletta

Professor of Physics


Seaver College of Science and Engineering



Image for publication on Physics FundamentalsImage for publication on Thinking in Physics (Pearson Educational Innovation: Instructor Resources for Physics)Image for publication on College PhysicsImage for publication on Student Study Guide with Solutions Manual to accompany College Physics



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Phone: 310.338.7352
Office: Seaver 106
Dr. Vincent Coletta received his B.S. in Physics in 1964 from Christian Brothers’ University in Memphis. In 1969 he received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of Notre Dame, and has been a faculty member in the LMU Physics Department ever since.

Dr. Coletta’s graduate research involved calculating long-range correlations between spins in many-body magnetic systems – a problem in statistical mechanics. His graduate research advisor was Professor Gerald Jones, who is a direct academic descendent of Boltzmann and Uhlenbeck, who discovered electron spin. From Professor Jones, Dr. Coletta learned both the beauty of rigorous mathematical logic applied to physical problems and the importance of clarity of expression in physics lectures.

Like all members of the LMU Physics Faculty, Dr. Coletta’s main concern is teaching physics. Finding better ways to understand and explain principles of physics is important to him. This led to the publication in 1995 of his College Physics textbook, which has been used throughout the world, and was translated into Chinese. Since 1995 Dr. Coletta has been active in Physics Education Research – the scientific investigation of the learning and teaching of physics. He has introduced a variety of techniques, all having the common purpose of actively engaging students in the classroom. The objective is to encourage students to think during class, rather than passively taking notes. These methods have proven quite effective, as measured by student performance on standardized exams.


University of Notre Dame

Ph.D., Theoretical Physics


Christian Brothers' University

B.Sc., Physics


Areas of Expertise

Higher EducationTeachingPhysics Education ResearchQuantum TheoryPhysicsTheoretical Physics

Industry Expertise

  • Education/Learning
  • Research


FCI Normalized Gain, Scientific Reasoning Ability, Thinking in Physics, and Gender Effects | AIP Conference Proceedings-American Institute of Physics


We observe no significant effect of gender on grades in our IE introductory mechanics courses at Loyola Marymount University, but we do observe a significant gender gap on FCI normalized gains, with males achieving higher gains than females.

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Comment on 'The effects of students' reasoning abilities on conceptual understanding and problem-solving skills in introductory mechanics' | European Journal of Physics


In a recent article, Ates and Cataloglu (2007 Eur. J. Phys. 28 1161?71), in analysing results for a course in introductory mechanics for prospective science teachers, found no statistically significant correlation between students' pre-instruction scores on the Lawson classroom test of scientific reasoning ability (CTSR) and post-instruction scores on the force concept inventory (FCI).

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Why You Should Measure Your Students’ Reasoning Ability | The Physics Teacher


Many teachers administer a force concept test such as the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) to their students in an effort to evaluate and improve their instructional practices.

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Interpreting force concept inventory scores: Normalized gain and SAT scores | Physical Review ST Physics Education Research


Preinstruction SAT scores and normalized gains (G) on the force concept inventory (FCI) were examined for individual students in interactive engagement (IE) courses in introductory mechanics at one high school (N=335) and one university (N=292), and strong, positive correlations were found for both populations (r=0.57 and r=0.46, respectively).

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Interpreting FCI scores: Normalized gain, preinstruction scores, and scientific reasoning ability | American Journal of Physics


We examined normalized gains and preinstruction scores on the force concept inventory (FCI) for students in interactive engagement courses in introductory mechanics at four universities and found a significant, positive correlation for three of them.

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