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Individual teachers of college level physics sometimes develop deep insights into how their students learn and what elements of classroom instruction are valuable in facilitating the learning process. Yet these insights rarely persist beyond the individual instructor. Educational methods seem to cycle from one fad to another, rarely cumulating increasingly powerful knowledge in the way scientists expect understanding to grow. In this paper I explore the character of our understanding of the physical world and of teaching about it. The critical factor is using "the culture of science"-the set of processes that allow us to build a community consensus knowledge base. Elements of the beginning of a base for our educational knowledge are discussed and examples given from discipline-based physics education research.
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