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Conversation and Context in Physics Education

By Sylvia Benckert and Sune Pettersson


The main aim of this project is to maintain and increase the students interest in physics, especially the interest among the female students. This main aim will be achieved by increasing the opportunities for conversations and discussions of physics. We also want to place the physics content in a context that is interesting for the students. That could be done by connecting to phenomena in everyday life or to some possible future career, by discussing technical applications, or by describing the historical context of physics and its impact on society. We also want to make the teachers aware of and discuss the influence of gender on physics teaching and learning. During the first year of the project we have had seminars in which we have discussed the importance of student activity, context in physics education and also gender issues. Two of us made a visit to USA to learn about the ways of teaching physics that have been developed at the University of Minnesota and the University of Washington. Their work has inspired our project from the beginning. Especially the way they use context-rich problems in Minnesota has influenced our thinking. We have constructed context-rich problems for different areas of physics and we have also planned qualitative questions and some simple experiments suitable for student discussions around physical concepts. The new ways of teaching will be implemented during this academic year, 1999/2000. We plan to replace app. 50% of the lectures with seminars in which the students are active and to stress context in the courses. We practise these methods in five courses during the first year of physics studies at the university. We also start to evaluate the context-rich problems and the teaching and learning activities during this year. During the third year of the project we adjust our teaching methods according to the student evaluations and the whole project is finally evaluated. We who work in this project are Sylvia Benckert, Sune Pettersson, Magnus Cedergren, Madelen Holmlund and Lena Lundmark

Publisher: Myndigheten för nätverk och samarbete inom högre utbildning
Year: 2005
OAI identifier: oai:gupea.ub.gu.se:2077/18144
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