College of Education > News and Publications > 2019: 07-09 news > M. Fatih Tasar: Teaching physics fundamentals to future educators

M. Fatih Tasar: Teaching physics fundamentals to future educators

The Alumni Spotlight is a monthly feature in Bridges, highlighting College of Education alumni who are making a difference in the lives of the people around them. This edition features M. Fatih Tasar, an alumnus who is using his degree to train future educators in his native Turkey.

M. Fatih Tasar still remembers how kindly he was treated following his long journey from Ankara, Turkey to State College, Pennsylvania. He arrived after a 24 1/2-hour trip that included layovers in Paris, New York and Pittsburgh. Peter Rubba, who was then head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, helped Tasar settle into his new community.

M. Fatih Tasar
After earning a doctorate in curriculum and instruction in 2001, alumnus M. Fatih Tasar returned to his native Turkey to take a position in the Department of Primary Education at Gazi University, Ankara and has worked his way up the tenured ranks to become a full professor.
“He invited me to his home, to join him and his family for my first ever Thanksgiving dinner,” Tasar said.

A native of Kayseri, Turkey, Tasar earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Bogazici University, Istanbul, and a master’s degree in physics from Erciyes University, Kayseri. He then received a scholarship from the Turkish Council of Higher Education to get a doctorate abroad and return back to the country and take a faculty member position.

“Before I began my doctoral studies at Penn State, I knew I wanted to be a university professor and I already had a position,” Tasar said.

As a doctoral candidate, Tasar supervised prospective science teachers during their student teaching practicum at Bellwood-Antis School District. He also served on a team that was charged with creating a studio-format introductory physical science and engineering design course for elementary education majors.

In 2001, Tasar graduated with his doctorate in curriculum and instruction, and returned to Turkey to become an instructor in the Department of Primary Education at Gazi University, Ankara. Over the next decade, he worked his way up the tenured ranks and was named a full professor in March 2012.

Throughout his career, Tasar has shared his expertise extensively with the academic community. He served as a member of Turkey’s National Science and Technology Curriculum Development Committee from 2003 to 2005. In this capacity, he helped develop a national science and technology curriculum for grades 4 through 8, and delivered teacher seminars and workshops around the country. He was a European Science Education Research Association board member from 2007 to 2015. Tasar also has traveled the globe to deliver dozens of seminars, conference presentations, and keynote speeches.

“Every time I meet new people, my Penn State degree impresses them and creates huge trust and confidence in me and my scholarly work,” Tasar said. “In this way, I feel like I am a Penn State ambassador abroad.”

Tasar added that he finds joy in many aspects of his role as a teacher and educator.

“Students sometimes have a negative attitude about learning physics, so it’s exciting to see them come to a point of meaningful understanding of its fundamental concepts,” Tasar said. “I also love it when former students contact me and tell me how they value what they learned in my classes, and how they are still being guided by what I taught them.”

Tasar lives in in Ankara, Turkey, with his wife and three sons.