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Nandana Weliweriya, Lecturer

Honors and Awards
  • M.G. Michael Award, Franklin College of Arts & Sciences, The University of Georgia, 2022
  • Affordable Materials Grant, University System of Georgia (USG), 2022-2023
  • Learning Technologies Grants (FY23) - Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Georgia, 2022
  • Teaching Academy Fellow, Teaching Academy Fellows program, Office of the President and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, UGA, 2022-2023
  • EETI Augmented, Remote, and Virtual Experimentation Grants, Engineering Education Transformations Institute (EETI), College of Engineering, University of Georgia, 2021
  • Outstanding Teacher Award, Franklin College of Arts & Sciences, 2021
  • Active Learning Summer Institute (ALSI) participant, 2021
  • Participant in the Faculty Writing Retreat, conducted by the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, The University of Georgia, Athens, 2021
  • Learning Technologies Grants (FY22) - Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Georgia, 2021
  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) 2021-2022, Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Georgia, 2021
  • Participant in the Creating a Sustainable Writing Practice (CSWP) cohort program, Write@UGA partnered with UGA’s Center for Teaching and Learning, 2021
  • NCS-AAPT Award for the Best Pedagogical Presentation, 2020
  • Exploring XR Technologies to Augment and Transform Textbook Problems and Enable Remote, Collaborative Problem Solving in Engineering Courses, 2020
  • Peer Learning Assistant Mentor (PLAdawgs), Division of Academic Enhancement, The University of Georgia, 2020, 2022, 2023
  • Writing Fellows Program, Center for Teaching and Learning, The University of Georgia, 2020-2021
  • International Student Scholarship, Alumni Association, Kansas State University, 2017

Research Interests


Ph.D. Kansas State University, 2019

M.S.  Kansas State University, 2015

B.Sc. (Hons) University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, 2011



Research (Physics Education Research)


In my research, I investigate students' problem-solving processes with representations.

I look at the macroscopic level on how students connect representations (diagrams, mathematics, gestures ...). Still, I also look at the microscopic level on how students generate spontaneous representations, decisions that students to evaluate the current status of their presentations, and steps they make to build on to representations.

In particular, this semester, 

  • We investigate how students construct and coordinate among representations while making problem-solving videos.
  • We compare how making problem-solving videos affect introductory-level physics students' performance in the course. 
  • We investigate how Hybrid instruction during the pandemic affects students' study strategies, motivations, and group work in SCALE-UP classrooms.


Further, I'm interested in studying students' eye movement patterns when they solve physics problems, mainly when they develop representations as a part of their solution process.

[Physics problem-solving requires students to construct and coordinate multiple representations (algebraic, gestural, graphical, and verbal) that play a vital role in making physics knowledge and communication.  However, extensive research on students' ability to solve physics problems found that students have difficulties interpreting, constructing, and switching between representations.

In our recent work on upper-division student problem-solving processes, we use students' oral exam data to look at representations at a microscopic level. We use social semiotic resources' disciplinary affordances to describe how the representations are developed, determined to be insufficient, and replaced or augmented by new ones brought in by the students. Our analysis solely depends on student reasoning and the interviewer's notes to reason for students' thought processes. As the next step of this project, we wonder if we could track students' eye movements to investigate what representations or what features of representations they pay attention to while solving problems. This work aims to determine if and how students engage with and solve physics problems in a virtual reality platform. While solving problems, what features of representations students pay attention to how that affects student problem-solving processes. In this project, we use eye tracking-enabled Virtual Reality (VR) headsets and graphics-tablets that allows individuals or groups of students to enhance the immersive virtual reality platform with shared whiteboards. We plan to use this approach both in-person classrooms and across the internet, allowing collaborators to be in geographically distant locations.  While using VR+eye-tracking to learn about student gaze patterns during lectures and problem solving, we could easily use VR applications to allow students to see and interact with abstract physics concepts (like electric and magnetic fields) that are not physically available. VR helps us as educators to facilitate students go beyond relying on our words and 2-D drawings to see it directly to know how these physics concepts look like in 3-D.  This approach makes course material (notes, lab manuals, worksheets, etc.) and problem-solving activities in introductory, Upper-division Physics courses and broadly in STEM are interacting and welcoming to our students.] 


Recent Publications

1. Chaudhry Nicolas Gibran Rasool, Weliweriya, N., Semiotic resources and their
relationship in physics and broadly in STEM problem-solving (submitted to American
journal of undergraduate research)

2. Romick, C., Weliweriya, N., Zipperer, E., Cotten, T., (2022) Personas of STEM students
completing online instructions during the COVID-19 pandemic (published in
Journal of Science University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka.

3. Zipperer, E., Weliweriya, N., Cotten, T., Dassanayake, M., Karunaratne, A., Online teaching-learning in STEM SCALE-UP classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic: feedback from students (DOI:10.1119/

4. (Received the NCS-AAPT Award for the best pedagogical presentation) - Use of Lottery Tickets (IF-AT scratch-off cards) to Solve Problems in Introductory-Level Physics Courses, Nandana Weliweriya, Richa Mandar Bhome, The North Carolina Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (NCS-AAPT) Virtual conference, November 7, 2020.


5. Weliweriya, N. (2019). Investigating students’ use of mathematical tools and representations in undergraduate physics problem-solving (Doctoral dissertation -

6. Weliweriya, N., Sayre, E. C., & Zollman, D. (2018). Case study: Coordinating among multiple semiotic resources to solve complex physics problems. European Journal of Physics. (doi:10.1088/1361-6404/aaf5d5)

7. Weliweriya, N., Huynh, T., & Sayre, E. C. Standing fast: Translation among durable representations using evanescent representations in upper-division problem solving (accepted by PERC proceedings 2017- doi:10.1119/

8. Weliweriya, N., Sayre, E. C., & Zollman, D. A. (2018). The Effectiveness of “Pencasts” in Physics Courses. The Physics Teacher,56(3), 161-164. (doi:10.1119/1.5025294)

9. Weliweriya, N., Zwolak, J., P., Sayre, E. C., & Zollman, D. A. Varied reasoning schema in students’ written solutions. (

10. Weliweriya, N. (2015). Effect of visual cues and outcome feedback on physics problem-solving in an online system (M.S. thesis -

11. N Jayashantha, K D Jayasuriya and R P Wijesundera (2012). Biodegradable Plantain Pith for Galvanic Cells, Proc. 28th Tech. Sess. Inst. Phys., Sri Lanka, pp. 92-99 (

12. Nandana Jayashantha, R P Wijesundera, and K D Jayasuriya (2011). Electrical Batteries from Plantain Pith, Proc. 12th Annual Research Symp. 2011, University of Kelaniya, p 71