About Us

Assistant Professor Matthew Perkins Coppola

Matthew Perkins Coppola, Ph.D.Perkins-Coppola-Matthew-JW-04

Assistant Professor of Science Education

  • Office:  Neff Hall, 240E
  • Phone:  260-481-6516
  • Fax:       260-481-5408
  • E-mail:  perkinsm@pfw.edu

Matthew Perkins Coppola joined the faculty of PFW (then IPFW) in fall 2015 after two years as a lecturer and master teacher in the Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences at Towson University in Towson, MD. A frequent collaborator with the Department of Physics, former PhysTEC Fellow, and cofounder of the Physics Teacher Advisory Group, he draws on his nine years of experience as a high school AP and general physics teacher at Oak Ridge HS in Oak Ridge, TN and four years as director of the Robeson Planetarium and Science Center in Lumberton, NC when discussing teaching pedagogy and classroom management. Since October 2016, Matthew has served as the director of the Northeast Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair (NEIRSEF) <please embed link to www.neirsef.org>, supporting teachers, parents, and students in an eight county region as they engage in and present scientific and engineering research.

During the 2020 pandemic, Matthew was instrumental in introducing faculty on campus to multiple tools for online teaching, including Perusall and ATLAS. In 2019 Matthew secured a grant allowing PFW to become one of the first universities in Indiana to offer elementary education majors certification in the PLTW Launch curriculum. His research interests center on preservice elementary teacher preparation in engineering and science. Elementary education majors design and teach two-day engineering design lessons during their school-based field placements for EDU 32800. Recently he collaborated with Avilla Elementary in East Nobel School Corporation to teach engineering design to sixty kindergarten students. For the past three years students in EDU 20001 participated in a service-learning project with the school science fair at Irwin Elementary School, an urban STEM Magnet school in Fort Wayne Community Schools. He is currently collaborating with Michael Fitzgerald at Edith Cowan University School of Education, Melbourne, Australia to support six physics majors in their research on RR Lyrae variable stars. Other work included organizing the Applied Physics Workshop in summer 2018 <link to https://sites.pfw.edu/scifair/Meggers/AppliedPhysicsWorkshop.html> and offering a training course for teaching and learning assistants based on the Colorado LA Pedagogy course.

Educational Background 

  • Ph.D. Theory and Practice in Teacher Education, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
  • M.A. Ed. Science Education, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Pembroke, NC
  • B.A., Physics, Berea College, Berea, KY


Classes Taught 

  • Science in the Elementary Schools (EDU 32800)
  • Methods of Teaching Science in the Secondary Schools (EDU 44900)
  • Introduction to Scientific Inquiry (EDU 20001)
  • Environmental Science Methods (EDU 40001)
  • Examining Self as Teacher (EDU 20000)
  • Learning and Teaching Physics (PHYS 17000)


University Service 

  • Chair, Academic Affairs Committee, School of Education
  • Director, Northeast Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair
  • General Studies Advisory Board


Professional Memberships

  • Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE)
  • American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)
  • American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)


Select Publications 

Perkins Coppola, M.P. & Merz, A. (2020). Sailing into Engineering with Apple Boats. Science & Children, 57(9), 35-39 .

Perkins Coppola, M.P. (2019). Preparing preservice elementary teachers to teach engineering: impact on self-efficacy and outcome expectancy. School Science and Mathematics. DOI: 10.1111/ssm.12327

Perkins Coppola, M.P. & Merz, A. (2019). Improving the quality of engineering design challenges. Science & Children, 56(6), 73-76.

Perkins Coppola, M.P. (2018). Talking and writing to learn: The physics of traffic intersection safety, part one. The Hoosier Science Teacher, 41(1). 6-20. DOI:10.14434/thst.v41i123677

Perkins Coppola, M.P. & Merz. A. (2017). Optimizing your K-5 engineering challenge. Science & Children, 54(5), 74-79.  

Lunsford, E, Melear, C.T., Roth, W.M, Perkins, M., & Hickok, L. (2007). Proliferation of inscriptions and transformations among preservice teachers engaged in authentic science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44(4), 538-564.

Perkins, M. & Pfaffman, J. (2006). Using a course management system to improve classroom communication. The Science Teacher, 73(7), 33-37

Select Presentations  

Perkins Coppola, M.P. (2021). Science fairs as service learning for preservice teachers. Association for Science Teacher Education, Virtual.

Perkins Coppola, M.P. (2021). Mentoring undergraduate teams in variable star research. American Association of Physics Teachers, Virtual.

Perkins Coppola, M.P. & Masters, M. (2019) Applied Physics Workshops for Student-Teacher Teams. Summer meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers, Provo, UT.

Perkins Coppola, M.P. (2019). Teaching engineering self-efficacy: a mini-unit approach in elementary science methods. National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Baltimore, MD.

Perkins Coppola, M.P., Stewart, G., Duffy, A., & Greenman, M. (2019). Preparing teachers for AP Physics. PhysTEC Annual Conference, Boston, MA.

Perkins Coppola, M. & Hagevik, R. (2017). Participation of inservice secondary teachers in a multi-year summer research experience. 12th annual meeting of the European Science Education Research Association, Dublin, Ireland.

Perkins Coppola, M.P. (2016). ASTE-Sponsored Session: Citizen Science: Argumentation and Modeling Safe Traffic Intersections. National Science Teachers Association Columbus Area Conference, Columbus, OH.