Costas Constantinou

An epistemologically informed approach to teaching energy Talk
C. P. Constantinou and N. Papadouris
Understanding energy is widely recognized as a significant learning objective of science teaching. It constitutes a cross-disciplinary concept that spans all domains of science. In addition, energy has been identified as one of a small number of disciplinary core ideas for science learning. Despite this wide recognition of its significance, introducing and elaborating energy in school science continues to pose a significant instructional challenge. We propose a novel teaching approach, for middle school, that could contribute towards addressing this instructional challenge. The main features of this approach include (a) the shift from a purely conceptually-oriented approach towards an epistemologically-informed approach, (b) placing emphasis on energy and its features (transfer, form conversion, conservation and degradation) as a theoretical framework for analyzing system behaviour, (c) utilizing transphenomenology for eliciting the added value of introducing energy as an epistemic construct, and (d) distinguishing between forms of energy and energy transfer processes. We have developed teaching and learning materials with variants targeted at either lower middle school students or pre-service elementary teachers. We have carried out a series of implementations of the teaching materials in authentic learning environments and we report data that emerged from empirical studies we have undertaken with the intent to gain insights into what could be achieved by participating students or teachers in terms of learning gains. The results demonstrate the potential of this teaching approach to help students (teachers) construct understanding about energy and develop the facility to employ it for analyzing the operation of simple, unfamiliar physical systems in a coherent manner.
Professor in Science Education and Director of the Learning in Science Group at the University of Cyprus.
His research interests focus on the learning and teaching of science as a process of inquiry and the use of educational technologies as a tool for promoting critical evidence-based thinking. The Learning in Science Group uses the results of this research in the development of online learning environments, such as the STOCHASMOS platform, and research-based teaching-learning sequences to promote conceptual understanding and scientific thinking.
Dr. Constantinou has co-ordinated a number of projects funded by the European Commission and the Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation.

Francisco Esquembre

How can teachers create simulations for tablets (and why should they do so)Talk
We introduce a new major version of the Easy Java Simulation (EJS) modeling tool that enables teachers (and advanced students) to create Java simulations for computers (existing feature) and Javascript simulations for computers, tablets, and smart phones (new feature). The simulations can be adapted from existing models in Digital Libraries such as comPADRE, or created from scratch, by using the simplified structure and utilities provided by EJS. The simulations created with EJS can be run in HTML pages served by remote computers, or can be downloaded to a Reader App (for Android and iOS) for local use. EJS is free for non-commercial use, including any teacher who wants to use the tool and the simulations created with it for her own teaching in her lectures. We also discuss why and how should a teacher want to use EJS simulations on. More on EJS can be found at http://www.um.es/fem/EjsWiki.
Francisco (Paco) Esquembre is Professor at the University of Murcia and his research includes computer assisted teaching and learning as well as modeling and simulation of scientific processes for didactical purposes. Since June 2009, he is the Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics.
Paco is President of the CoLoS Group, and of the Multimedia in Physics Teaching and Learning international group and participates actively in the Open Source Physics project.

Igal Galili

Considering Physics Knowledge as a Culture - an approach to physics curriculum matching interests and needs of contemporary learners
Common physics curricula present the subject of physics as a scientific discipline - clearly and univocally. This presentation usually leaves in shade several aspects of this knowledge which are especially important for the contemporary culture in a wider sense. Those emphasize plurality and polyphonic discourse taking place in physics as a living body producing knowledge in the process of construction, debate and refutation in the ongoing practice and across the time. In structuring physics curriculum we suggest to emphasize its basing on a few fundamental theories which comprise a conceptual dialogue, specify the difference among them as well as their commonality (family resemblance). This goal can be reached through structuring the contents of each theory according to triadic affiliation: nucleus, body, and periphery. Such approach may frame the inclusion of history and philosophy of science in school curriculum. It creates appropriate space of meaningful learning by providing three options of emphasis addressing particular populations of students. All three options share, however, the big picture of physics. We have probed inclusion of this agenda into physics teaching in the form of a summative lecture which reviewed the optics knowledge after it was taught in high school of scientific orientation (Levrini et al. 2013). The applied lecture illustrated physics knowledge as an unfolding dialogue of four optical theories of which three - rays, waves and photons - are normally taught in physics classes. Our findings inform about enthusiastic perception on behalf of the students and teachers involved in the experiment indicating a resonance with their interests and preferences in a wider than disciplinary span.
Igal Galili is Head of The Science Teaching Department The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel).
His research interest involves the following areas:

  • Conceptual knowledge of physics;
  • Physics curriculum and theory of science teaching;
  • Representation of knowledge in science education;
  • The interaction between physics and the history and philosophy of science in physics education.

David Hammer

Teaching physics as a pursuit Talk
The assumption remains pervasive that the core objective of science instruction is a body of canonical knowledge. It underlies instructional practices, assessments of learning, and even progressive "inquiry-based" curricula. Meanwhile, for many students, physics class is still disconnected from genuine pursuit of understanding. The assumption, I suggest, is a "misconception" of the community as a system. If "physics is what physicists do," then physics is a pursuit of understanding. But, like a student who keeps thinking force causes motion, the physics education community keeps thinking the goal is a particular set of concepts. I will argue for concerted effort to address the misconception, of research as well as of design and politics. The point is not to eliminate the canon but genuinely to prioritize students' learning physics as a pursuit. I will discuss challenges and possibilities for curriculum, assessment, and responsive teaching, with examples from primary and tertiary education.
Professor at Tufts University (USA), in Education and Physics & Astronomy. Co-director of the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach and Chair of Education Department.
His work has been in the learning and teaching of science, mainly physics, across ages from young children through adults. More specifically, he's studied students' intuitive "epistemologies" (knowledge about knowing and learning), how instructors interpret and respond to student thinking, and on resource-based models of knowledge and reasoning. .

Antje Kohnle

Research-based interactive simulations to support quantum mechanics learning and teaching Talk
Quantum mechanics holds a fascination for many students, but its mathematical complexity can present a major barrier. Traditional approaches to introductory quantum mechanics have been found to decrease student interest. Topics which enthuse students such as quantum information are often only covered in advanced courses. The QuVis Quantum Mechanics Visualization project (www.st-andrews.ac.uk/physics/quvis) aims to overcome these issues through the development and evaluation of interactive simulations with accompanying activities for the learning and teaching of quantum mechanics at university level. Simulations support model-building by reducing complexity, focusing on fundamental ideas and making the invisible visible. They promote engaged exploration, sense-making and linking of multiple representations, and include high levels of interactivity and direct feedback. Some simulations allow students to collect data to see how quantum-mechanical quantities are determined experimentally. Through text explanations, simulations aim to be self-contained instructional tools. Simulations are research-based, and evaluation with students informs all stages of the development process. Simulations and activities are iteratively refined using individual student observation sessions,where students freely explore a simulation and then work on the associated activity, as well as in-class trials using student surveys, pre- and post-tests and student responses to activities. A recent collection of QuVis simulations is embedded in the Institute of Physics (IOP) New Quantum Curriculum (quantumphysics.iop.org), which consists of freely available resources for an introductory course in quantum mechanics starting from two-level systems. This approach immediately immerses students in quantum phenomena that have no classical analogue, using simpler mathematical tools that allow a greater focus on conceptual understanding. It allows from the start a discussion of interpretative aspects of quantum mechanics and quantum information theory. This presentation will give an overview of the IOP new quantum curriculum, highlight recent work on the QuVis project and outline future plans. It will describe our iterative process of refining simulations and activities and give examples of in-class use. QuVis is supported by the UK Institute of Physics, the UK Higher Education Academy and the University of St Andrews.
Antje Kohnle is a Principal Teaching Fellow at the University of St Andrews (UK), and since 2009 leads the QuVis Quantum Mechanics Visualization project. Her research interests include how different visualizations influence students' models of physical situations, the teaching of interpretive and conceptual aspects of quantum mechanics, research-based resource development for student difficulties in quantum mechanics and optimizing simulations and activities to promote engaged exploration and learning. She co-directs the St Andrews Centre for Higher Education Research and organizes physics education events as part of the Institute of Physics Higher Education Group committee.

Olivia Levrini

How Can the Learning of Physics Support the Construction of Students' Personal Identities? Talk
In public perception, the humanities (history, philosophy, art, and literature) still have a privileged role as subjects that can encourage students to develop their personal orientations and aesthetics. In contrast, physics and mathematics are school subjects that have been shown to put off many young people because of the strong image of authority they still maintain where there is no place for arguments and personal views. In this talk, we will consider the following questions: How can the learning of physics content support students in constructing their personal identities (in the sense of their personal narratives of self)? Conversely, How does the search for a personal self-narrative influence students' approaches to learning disciplinary content? The presentation will be based on an extended design experience on the topic of thermodynamics in a secondary school physics class (grade 11). This case is notable for investigating our questions since the students in this class came to appropriate the discourse of thermodynamics. That is, their conceptual understanding and disciplinary engagement were accomplished by a reflexive process of populating scientific discourse with personal intentions, purposes and tastes. With respect to this case, we will discuss possible connections between the specific model of educational reconstruction we used to design the teaching materials and the type of productive learning that sits at the nexus of disciplinary engagement and identity and that we termed appropriation.
Olivia Levrini is a senior researcher in Physics Education at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Bologna, Italy. Her research interests include: the role of history and philosophy of physics for improving conceptual understanding of contemporary physics, conceptual change and development of theories in physics education, the design and the analysis of learning environments able to foster individual appropriation of physics content knowledge, and teacher education.

Eric Mazur

The scientific approach to teaching: Research as a basis for course design Talk
Discussions of teaching -- even some publications -- abound with anecdotal evidence. Our intuition often supplants a systematic, scientific approach to finding out what works and what doesn't work. Yet, research is increasingly demonstrating that our gut feelings about teaching are often wrong. In this talk I will discuss some research my group has done on gender issues in science courses and on the effectiveness of classroom demonstrations.
Eric Mazur is the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University and Area Dean of Applied Physics. He leads a vigorous research program in optical physics and supervises one of the largest research groups in the Physics Department at Harvard University.
In addition to his work in optical physics, Dr. Mazur is interested in education, science policy, outreach, and the public perception of science. Dr. Mazur devotes part of his research group's effort to education research and finding verifiable ways to improve science education. In 1990 he began developing Peer Instruction a method for teaching large lecture classes interactively. Dr. Mazur's teaching method has developed a large following, both nationally and internationally, and has been adopted across many science disciplines.

Lillian Christie McDermott

Discipline-based Education Research in a University Physics Department Talk
Student learning in university science courses is a relatively new area for investigation by science faculty. The Physics Education Group in the Physics Department at the University of Washington began conducting research in physics education in the 1970s in courses to strengthen the preparation of prospective and experienced elementary and secondary school teachers to teach physics by inquiry. Our research soon expanded to include undergraduates in the standard university physics courses required for majors in physics, other sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Later, we included students in more advanced physics courses. The emphasis has been on determining whether students develop a functional understanding of important physical concepts, which includes the ability to do the reasoning required to apply them to simple physical phenomena. Examples from introductory physics will be used to illustrate the nature of our research in physics education and our application of the results in the development of instructional materials that are both research-based and research-validated
Lillian Christie McDermott received her Ph.D. in experimental nuclear physics from Columbia University in 1959. After teaching at City College of New York, Seattle University, and the University of Washington, she collaborated with Arnold Arons who had come to the University of Washington to establish a program in the Department of Physics for the preparation of precollege teachers. She was appointed as an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington in 1973 and since that time has directed the Physics Education Group, widely known today for its leadership role in physics education research and in the preparation of (K–12) teachers. Prof. McDermott was promoted to Associate Professor in 1976 and to Professor in 1981. Prof. Mc Dermott is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Among the numerous awards she has received are the Robert A. Millikan Lecture Award of the American Association of Physics Teachers (1990), the Archie Mahan Prize of the Optical Society of America (2000), the Education Research Achievement Award of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (2000), AAPT Oersted Medal (2001), and the Medal of the International Commission on Physics Education (2002).

Eilish McLoughlin

Models for teacher education and assessment of skills in Inquiry Based Science Education Talk
Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE) has been the focus of many national and international programmes and projects in recent years as Inquiry based teaching methods have been suggested as a way to encourage and motivate students in science. The pan-European FP7-funded project ESTABLISH collaboration has led to the development and adoption of the project's framework for teacher education in IBSE across eleven European countries, which is supported by the consortium's development of IBSE teaching and learning materials. The effect of the implementation of IBSE teacher education programmes with pre-service and in-service teachers and the impact on these teacher's attitudes and understanding of IBSE, as well as their integration into classroom practice will be discussed. In addition, strategies and instruments for the assessment of skills developed by students through IBSE will be reported on based on the experiences of the 14 partners involved in the SAILS project.
Eilish McLoughlin holds a PhD in Experimental Physics and is Director of the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Teaching and Learning (CASTeL) at Dublin City University whose mission is to undertake research to inform and enhance the teaching, learning and assessment of science and mathematics at and across all educational levels (i.e. primary through to postgraduate). Her research interests focus on the teaching and learning of science as a process of inquiry, the effective use of educational technologies and the integration of these in the classroom practice. She coordinates the FP7 funded ESTABLISH project (2010-2014) in Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) and is a member of the coordinating team on the FP7 funded SAILS project (2012-2015) and partners on several other number European projects in science teacher education.

Marco Antonio Moreira

Potentially Meaningful Teaching Units in physics education research Talk
Potentially Meaningful Teaching Units are didactic sequences based on learning theories, specially on the meaningful learning one. Steps for its construction are suggested and examples as well as research findings are provided in their applications to Particle Physics, Quantum Mechanics, and Electromagnetism at high school and introductory college levels.
Professor of Physics Education, retired, at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brasil).
His research interests focus on:

  • Science (physics) education;
  • Learning theories;
  • Methodology of higher education;
  • Educational research;
  • Epistemology.

Laurence Viennot

Thinking the content for physics education research and practice Talk
Content analysis, it is unanimously agreed, is a fundamental component of physics education research. In this address I will discuss, on the basis of several examples, how various research standpoints resulted in different ways of reexamining - "reconstructing", or "spotlighting" - the content for teaching: student-led, teacher-led, reactive, proactive. In so doing, I will reconsider, in particular, the merits of "simplification". I will plead for a way of spotlighting the content for teaching that leaves room for the search for consistency and conceptual links, making these explicit, while respecting a constraint of accessibility. The examples of color phenomena and the transfer of light will serve to illustrate this objective. The final discussion will bear on how students' intellectual satisfaction might thus be increased, and constitute a powerful incitement for them to engage with physics.
Laurence Viennot is an emeritus professor at Denis Diderot University. She was awarded the medal of International Commission of Physics Education in 2003. Her professional interest is in the quality of the teaching learning process, and has led her into research on common ways of reasoning in physics, design and evaluation of sequences and teachers reaction to innovative interventions. More recently, the link between conceptual understanding and intellectual satisfaction became her main topic of research. In 2008, she has been involved in the MUSE project (More Understanding with Simple Experiments) supported by the European Physical Society.