Melanie Good

  • Lecturer
113D OEH


My current research has focused primarily on understanding student attitudes and approaches to problem solving in physics and astronomy.  Problem solving attitudes and approaches may influence student development towards expertise, as well as their engagement and perception of physics and astronomy as an academic endeavor. Understanding undergraduate students’ attitudes and approaches may shed light on these formative experiences and what may be done to improve students' learning experiences. On the other end of the spectrum, physics graduate students, who have developed significant problem solving expertise,  may exhibit attitudes about the instructional merits of utilizing different types of physics problems with their students and how best to utilize different types of problems for different pedagogical purposes.  Understanding graduate students' problem solving attitudes, therefore, can help to inform professional development programs for graduate teaching assistants.  
Thus far, the results of my research have suggested that female introductory students and introductory students instructed in an evidence-based active engagement manner may have more favorable attitudes and approaches to problem solving compared with male students and traditionally-instructed students. Similarly, introductory astronomy students have been found to have more favorable attitudes than introductory physics students. Moreover, it has also been found that graduate students’ preferences regarding the types of problems they prefer to use with their introductory students does not always reflect the potential instructional benefits afforded by those problems. These findings illuminate pathways toward improving both teaching and learning of problem solving in college physics and astronomy courses.

My previous research involved the detection and characterization of exoplanets using aperture photometry.  In 2009, I helped create an exoplanet transit search group, Survey of Transiting Extrasolar Planets at the University of Pittsburgh, or STEPUP for short (, which has conducted follow-up observations of transiting exoplanets, utilizing the Keeler telescope at the Allegheny Observatory.  STEPUP is now an undergraduate-run research group that has collaborated with astronomers around the world to detect and confirm transits of extrasolar planets and planetary candidates.

Selected Publications

M. Good, A. J. Mason and C. Singh, Comparing introductory physics and astronomy students’ attitudes and approaches to problem solving, Euro. J. Phys. 39 065702 (2018).

A. J. Mason, M. Good, and C. Singh, Surveying physics and astronomy students’ attitudes and approaches to problem solving, 2018 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings, doi:10.1119/

M. Good, E. Marshman, E. Yerushalmi and C. Singh, Graduate teaching assistants’ perceptions of a context- rich introductory physics problem, 2017 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings, 144-147 (2018).

M. Good, E. Marshman, E. Yerushalmi and C. Singh, Physics teaching assistants’ views of different types of introductory problems: Challenge of perceiving the instructional benefits of context-rich and multiple choice problems, Physical Review PER, 14 020120 (1-17) (2018).

S. Fleming, et. al., Very Low-mass Stellar and Substellar Companions to Solar-like Stars from MARVELS II: A Short-period Companion Orbiting an F Star with Evidence of a Stellar Tertiary And Significant Mutual Inclination, The Astrophysical Journal Volume 144, Issue 3, 2012

M. Good, Survey of Transiting Extrasolar Planets at the University of Pittsburgh, M.S. Thesis, University of Pittsburgh 2011

A. Shporer, et. al., Ground-based Multisite Observations of Two Transits of HD 80606b, The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 722, Issue 1, 2010.