The Effective Practices for Physics Programs (EP3) Guide contains information and advice for physics departments and programs in the U.S. to use as they address challenges and make changes and improvements. The Guide is a structured resource informed by research and effective practices from Contributors and Reviewers. While the Guide is intended to be comprehensive, departments should not attempt to implement all recommendations, but instead identify practices appropriate to their context. Departments should approach the Guide as a toolbox to accomplish objectives they have set for themselves rather than regarding it as a set of standards.

The EP3 team runs Departmental Action Leadership Institute (DALI) (DALIs), which train physics faculty members to lead departments in facing a challenge or implementing significant changes to their undergraduate programs. The DALIs are an important part of the EP3 initiative that support implementation of recommendations made by the Guide.

Future workshops will be made available to train physics program leaders and external program reviewers on how to use the Guide.

The EP3 initiative, led by the American Physical Society (APS) in collaboration with the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), began with the creation of a task force in 2016. The task force was charged by the APS Council of Representatives with developing a guide for self-assessment of undergraduate physics programs founded on documented best practices linked to measurable outcomes. The creation of the Guide was based on a philosophy of effective departmental change and required a rigorous peer review process.

Following completion of the first version of the Guide, stewardship will be transferred from the task force to an EP3 Editorial Board, an editorial committee overseen by the APS Committee on Education, in collaboration with AAPT. The EP3 Editorial Board will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the Guide. To ensure the Guide’s relevancy to the physics community, its content will be reviewed and updated, as appropriate, along with new material added based on the needs identified by physics programs, current research, and other practices deemed effective by the community.


There has been a growing emphasis on accountability in higher education. Regional accrediting bodies for colleges and universities, as well as other organizations administering professional standards, have increased emphasis on measures of performance based on established learning goals and closed-loop assessment processes at all institutional levels. Unfortunately, individual departments must often create assessment processes on their own, without the benefit of the experience of the broader physics community or published research. The EP3 Guide fills this gap by creating guidance for physics departments in program improvement, assessment, and management of these processes.