Seminar topics

The general seminar topic:
Research-based proposals for improving physics teaching and learning – focus on laboratory work

Below an extended list of Seminar topics is proposed in order to provide essential details of Seminar interest and focus. Some topics have been combined according to the structure of contributions in order to create broader themes of six Working Groups (see Seminar program).

Experimental lab in introductory physics courses

The impact of physics education research on the educational design and practice of physics laboratory will be discussed. Answers for frequently arising questions such as: What are the goals for laboratory work?, What are the students' goals for this same laboratory work?, How the goals should be transformed into practice? will be searched for. Presentations will show case studies of students' learning and difficulties in the laboratory, as well as, teaching proposals for specific topics at High School, College and first years of University.

Advanced experimental lab

Advanced experimental laboratories are rarely addressed by instructors and researchers focused more on introductory physics labs. The topic is chosen to fill the gap and open a broader discussion on the role, the goals and the examples of the advanced laboratories in physics student education during their bachelor and master studies.

Modern physics lab

Modern physics topics are rarely addressed in high school and during the first years of physics studies due to the lack of time and lack of teachers' competences. On the other hand modern physics hot topics are of the most interest of learners at all ages. The question arises how to translate complex theories and highly-advanced experiments into language understandable and appreciated by students.

Low cost experiments

Understanding of physics and appreciation of its beauty starts in the kitchen, bathroom, backyard, during excursion, when observing the common but at the same time – amazing phenomena around. When attention for science is brought naturally, with use of common materials and everyday context. Low cost experiments can be used not only at early ages, but also in later education s the ignition of ideas, concepts and the area for development of intuition in physics.

Lab work and multimedia

A modern laboratory can barely be operated without ICT. Design, evaluation and characterization of resources and environments for teaching/learning physics will be addressed. That will in particular focus on online learning environments, simulation and modeling tools, virtual laboratories. Self-regulation, reflection and collaboration in digital learning environments in context of lab work will be discussed.

Bridging between theory and experiments in teaching energy

Energy, unlike other concepts such as time, mass, or force, is commonly introduced in science teaching as a non-measurable, abstract concept which is related to theoretical considerations, formal calculations and mathematical representations. This promotes the development of a conception of energy as a vaguely defined non-unitary entity and renders relating it to observable processes and phenomena of everyday life difficult. Hence, the focus of the workshop will be to "normalize" energy by offering various approaches to teach it, similar to many other scientific concepts, as an empirical grounded concept. The workshop will comprise theoretical discussions as well as suggestions for hands-on and minds-on activities. The contributors are asked to demonstrate how they offer teachers at different school levels an empirical support for the theoretical statements related to energy, such as: A) energy forms/types, B) energy transfer, C) energy transformation, D) energy conservation, E) energy dissipation, as well as for its use as a crosscutting concept in addressing phenomena belonging to different scientific domains.

Conceptual lab

Theories, models, and empirical results on conceptual understanding, conceptual change and development of competences in context of laboratory work, as well as methodology for investigating students' processes of concept formation and concept use on the basis of experiments and strategies to promote conceptual development throughout laboratory activities, will be addressed.

Experiments and mathematization

The goal of physics education consists in conveying the principles and concepts of physics as complete as possible to the students. The overarching questions are: Can the domain of mathematical structures improve the understanding of physical concepts and if so, in which way? What is the role of mathematics in physics laboratory? In this connection it is important to stress that a broad meaning of the term mathematics is needed: it includes all kinds of structuring and ordering physical processes: using abstract methods like idealization and modeling, as well as using a broad range of mathematical elements such as diagrams, graphs and formalized sketches (e. g. arrows) and equations. The role of statistical analysis of the experimental data should not be disregarded in this context. The discussion is open to address this complex theme from different perspectives.

Assessment for learning through experimentation

Specific role and character of laboratory activities encourage the teachers to search for non-standard assessment strategies. In lab more than in other physics learning environments the formative assessment for development of research skills and conceptual understanding plays a dominant role. A broader discussion should be open to address these issues.

Classroom activities as lab for a teacher

A teacher as a practitioner whose lab is a particular class and research interest is a group of individual learners. How the teacher practice can be informed by the practitioner inquiry? How to design the study? How to define what should be looked for? Does such a research approach help to develop teachers scientific research skills in general?

Non-classical lab environments

Traditional laboratory environment is nowadays extended beyond the lab space. Experiments are shown and tried out during numerous programmes, festivals and other experiences outside the classroom, including those organized by institutions other than schools. To what extend such events can support school education? What is the value of such education?

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