Finkelstein is a director of the Physics Education Research group at CU, one of the largest research groups of its kind. He is PI of many grants to create and study conditions that support students’ interest and ability in physics. His theoretical and experimental research focuses on understanding the role of context in student learning of physics. These research projects range from the specifics of learning (how do students use representations, simulations, or analogies to learn physics?) to the course (how do we effectively modify our courses?) and institutional scales (what models exist for sustainable transformation?). He leads the CU-Boulder's AAU STEM Education Initiative; one of 8 sites nationally. Finkelstein co-directs of the Center for STEM Learning, which spans 14 departments & 6 colleges at CU, and is a national hub. He launched and studies a national Network of STEM Education Centers and is creating a national cross-disciplinary education research community.
physics education research, contextual foundations of learning, systemic and structural components of education and educational transformation, use of material (simulation) and intellectual (representation) tools in learning physics, teacher preparation, practices, and perspectives in physics, student perspectives in learning quantum mechanics, gender gaps in physics, sustaining and scaling physics education reforms