Specialized Seminar on Physics Education Research: Learning and Curriculum Development

Doctoral Programme Mathematics and Physics
1 in 2 year
first or second
slovenian, english
Course director:
Hours per week – 1. or 2. semester:

Course title:

Content (Syllabus outline)

The course will address the following topics:
The most important findings concerning student learning of physics content and the assessment instruments.
The most important findings concerning student learning of physics processes and the assessment instruments.
Multiple representations and their role in learning physics.
The most important PER findings concerning student epistemology and relevant assessment instruments.
How does one approach physics curriculum design?
Examples of research -based curricula in physics that have been found effective in helping students learn physics. Common aspects of these and the differences.


Hestenes, D., Wells, M. & Swackhamer, G., 1992. Force concept inventory. The physics teacher, 30(March), pp.1–15. Available at: http://ptc.weizmann.ac.il/_Uploads/dbsAttachedFiles/1852FCI.pdf [Accessed March 20, 2015].
Ding, L. et al., 2006. Evaluating an electricity and magnetism assessment tool: Brief electricity and magnetism assessment. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 2(1), p.010105. Available at: http://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.2.010105 [Accessed March 19, 2015].
Etkina, E. & Van Heuvelen, A., 2007. Investigative science learning environment–A science process approach to learning physics. Research-based reform of university physics, pp.1–48. Available at: http://paer.rutgers.edu/scientificabilities/downloads/papers/isle-2007.pdf [Accessed January 19, 2015].
Van Heuvelen, A. (1991). Learning to think like a physicist: A review of research-based instructional strategies. American Journal of Physics, 59(10), 891-897.
Etkina, E., Van Heuvelen, A., White-Brahmia, S., Brookes, D.T., Gentile, M., Murthy, S. Rosengrant, D., & Warren, A. (2006) Developing and assessing student scientific abilities. Physical Review. Special Topics, Physics Education Research. 2, 020103.
Etkina, E., Karelina, A., & Ruibal-Villasenor, M. (2008). How long does it take? A study of student acquisition of scientific abilities. Physical Review, Special Topics, Physics Education Research, 4, 020108.
Brookes, D. T. & Etkina, E. (2007). Using conceptual metaphor and functional grammar to explore how language used in physics affects student learning. Physical Review, Special Topics, Physics Education Research, 3, 010105.
Brookes, D. T. & Etkina, E. (2007). Using conceptual metaphor and functional grammar to explore how language used in physics affects student learning. Physical Review, Special Topics, Physics Education Research, 3, 010105.
May, D. & Etkina, E. (2002). College physics students' epistemological self-reflection and its relationship to conceptual learning. American Journal of Physics, 70 (12), 1249-1258.
Zollman, D. a., Rebello, N.S. & Hogg, K., 2002. Quantum mechanics for everyone: Hands-on activities integrated with technology. American Journal of Physics, 70(3), p.252. Available at: http://link.aip.org/link/AJPIAS/v70/i3/p252/s1&Agg=doi [Accessed March 4, 2015].
Redish, E.F., 2003. Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite, Wiley. Available at: http://books.google.si/books?id=2dULAQAAMAAJ.
McDermott, L.C. & Shaffer, P.S., 1998. Tutorials in introductory physics, Prentice Hall. Available at: http://books.google.si/books?id=0kQdlyhvjW8C.
Hestenes, D., 1987. Toward a modeling theory of physics instruction. American Journal of Physics, 55(5).
Hammer, D., 1996. Misconceptions or P-Prims: How May Alternative Perspectives of Cognitive Structure Influence Instructional Perceptions and Intentions. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 5(2), pp.97–127. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327809jls0502_1.
DiSessa, A., 1993. Toward an Epistemology of Physics. Cognition and instruction, 10(2), pp.105–225. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/07370008.1985.9649008 [Accessed May 27, 2014].
Linder, C. & Fraser, D., 2006. Using a Variation Approach To Enhance Physics Learning in a College Classroom. The Physics Teacher, 44(9), p.589. Available at: http://scitation.aip.org/content/aapt/journal/tpt/44/9/10.1119/1.2396777 [Accessed June 17, 2014].
Viennot, L., 2014. “Thinking in Physics: The pleasure of reasoning and understanding”, Springer Books.

Objectives and competences

The students can answer the questions related to the syllabus and discuss the features of PER-based curricula.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:
Students develop an overview of the practical aspects of PER and an understanding of how one can design curriculum materials based on the findings in the field
Knowledge developed in the course can be applied in research for a doctoral thesis, physics curriculum development and in physics teachers’ professional development.
Use of developed knowledge for instructional interventions and for thinking about your own teaching.
Transferable skills:
Curriculum design and evaluation for other science subjects.

Learning and teaching methods

Students will participate in whole class and small group discussions, read assigned papers, conduct literature review on a particular subject, conduct group project and report on them. The final project will be a mini-study involving curriculum design and assessment.


Active participation in class work
Homework: reading summaries including literature review and reflections.
Group project. The students working in groups will come up with a research-based instructional intervention in the area of multiple representations and try it with peers in class.
Capstone project. The course ends with students working in groups of 2-3 on a capstone project that uses the findings of physics education research in the area of laboratory experiments with the use
grading: 5 (fail), 6-10 (pass) (according to the Statute of UL)

Lecturer's references

prof. dr. Gprazd Planinšič:
1. JELIČIĆ, Katarina, PLANINIĆ, Maja, PLANINŠIČ, Gorazd. Analyzing high school studentsʼ reasoning about electromagnetic induction. Physical review, Physics education research, ISSN 2469-9896, 2017, vol. 13, iss. 1, str. 010112-1-010112-18, ilustr., doi: 10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.13.010112. [COBISS-SI-ID 3067236]
2. GREGORČIČ, Bor, ETKINA, Eugenia, PLANINŠIČ, Gorazd. A new way of using the interactive whiteboard in a high school physics classroom: a case study. Research in science education, ISSN 0157-244X, 2017, 25 str., ilustr., doi: 10.1007/s11165-016-9576-0. [COBISS-SI-ID 3059812]
3. POKLINEK ČANČULA, Maja, PLANINŠIČ, Gorazd, ETKINA, Eugenia. Analyzing patterns in experts' approaches to solving experimental problems. American journal of physics : a publication of American association of physics teachers, ISSN 0002-9505, 2015, vol. 83, no. 4, str. 366-374, ilustr. http://scitation.aip.org/content/aapt/journal/ajp/83/4/10.1119/1.4913528. [COBISS-SI-ID 2803556]
4. PLANINŠIČ, Gorazd, ETKINA, Eugenia. Light-emitting diodes : learning new physics. The Physics teacher, ISSN 0031-921X, 2015, vol. 53, no. 4, str. 210-216, ilustr. http://scitation.aip.org/content/aapt/journal/tpt/53/4/10.1119/1.4914558. [COBISS-SI-ID 2802788]
5. PLANINŠIČ, Gorazd, GREGORČIČ, Bor, ETKINA, Eugenia. Learning and teaching with a computer scanner. Physics Education, ISSN 0031-9120, 2014, vol. 49, no. 5, str. 586-595, ilustr. [COBISS-SI-ID 2719332]