(2020) STEM Teachers and Teaching in the Digital Era. Martinovic D., Milner-Bolotin M. & Ben-David Kolikant Y.(eds.). p. 65-89 Abstract
Programs of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are gradually becoming significant frameworks for enhancing teachers’ professional development and for elevating students’ performances and motivation. This study discusses theoretical and practical perspectives manifested in the design and enactment of innovative middle-school science and high-school physics PLCs: ‘Research-Practice Partnerships (RPPs)', ‘Scholarship of Teaching and Practitioner Research’, and ‘Boundary Crossing’. The PLCs were carried out as a collaboration between academic teams at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and practitioners, and involved sharing and collaborative analysis of teachers’ practice and students’ learning. Exemplary case studies, carried out in the middle school science and physics high school PLCs, demonstrate main characteristics of these PLCs. The study on the processes and outcomes of the PLCs indicates that teachers became more attentive to students’ conceptual understandings and needs. Teachers enriched their pedagogical content knowledge, their content knowledge, and their reflective stances towards their practice. A top-down approach, which characterized the initial interactions in the PLCs, has been gradually transformed into interactions and collaborative learning, leading to a ‘change in roles’, which involved a more symmetric sharing of responsibilities between the participants. These interactions within the PLCs created an evolving ŉetwork model’ of knowledge transmission.
Motivators, contributors, and inhibitors to physics teacher-leaders’ professional development in a program of professional learning communities(2020) STEM Teachers and Teaching in the Digital Era. Martinovic D., Milner-Bolotin M. & Ben-David Kolikant Y.(eds.). p. 159-184 Abstract
Teacher-leaders play a major role in promoting science education reforms, in teachers’ Professional Development (PD) and in the development of effective Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). However, the PD of the teachers-leaders themselves is rarely discussed in the literature. This study examined the PD of high-school physics teacher-leaders in a national program of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), along with the factors that affected their PD. The teacher-leaders participate in a PLC led by a team from the Weizmann Institute of Science, while they simultaneously lead regional PLCs of high-school physics teachers all over Israel. The program addresses the challenges of teaching physics, promotes implementation of learner-centered instructional strategies, and provides opportunities for teachers to examine collaboratively their teaching and their students’ learning. In order to study the professional growth of the teacher-leaders, and to identify the factors that motivated, contributed to, or inhibited their professional growth, we extended the Interconnected Model of Clarke and Hollingsworth (Teach Teac Educ 18(8):947-967, 2002) and adjusted it to the professional world of physics teacher-leaders. Three teacher-leaders were chosen as case studies. We studied the changes in their knowledge, attitudes, and practice in the context of a new learner-centered instructional strategy, along with the factors that affected these changes.
Integrating Science Education Research and History and Philosophy of Science in Developing an Energy Curriculum(2017) History, Philosophy and Science Teaching: New Perspectives. Matthews M. R.(eds.). Cham: . p. 235-260 Abstract
A curriculum development in science education involves addressing the interpretation of phenomena and the reasons for preferring one interpretation over another. Such considerations are at the focus of science, its history (HS) and its philosophy (PS). Hence, in order to foster a better scientific understanding, a curriculum design should aim at supplying students with the requisite tools to learn from the evolution of scientific ideas and their foundations. Here we discuss how the four pillars: science itself, its history and philosophy, and results from science education research can assist in designing a curriculum. We further demonstrate how these domains were considered in making decisions in the process of designing a curriculum, textbooks and instructional materials for teaching energy at the middle school level (7th & 9th grade levels).
(2017) Key Competences in Physics Teaching and Learning. Dębowska E. & Greczyło T.(eds.). Cham: . p. 95-104 Abstract
The interrelations between Physics and Mathematics caught the attention of the physics education research community. Focusing mainly on students and teachers competency, the research in physics education (PER) found that learners, at different ages and levels, lack the ability to construct the mathematical models of physical processes or to describe the physical meaning of mathematical constructs. Mathematical knowledge was also found to reflect on the quality of explanations of physical phenomena. (Clement et al. 1981; Cohen et al. 1983; Rozier and Viennot in International Journal of Science Education 13: 159-170, 1991; Rebmann and Viennot 1994; Bagno et al. in Physics Education 43(1): 75-82, 2007; Redish and Smith in Journal of Engineering Education 97(3): 295-307, 2008; Baumert et al. 2010; Zuccarini and Michelini 2014). The approach that underlines our study adopts the view that the context of physics teaching invites investigating the interplay between physics and mathematics. This "Phys-Math" interplay is regarded as a complex two ways track by which the knowledge and understanding of physics is constructed by learners. Our multi-national group examines this subject from various perspectives: history and philosophy of science as well as its instruction in different levels from high school to university (Eylon et al. 2010; Pospiech and Matthias 2011; Lehavi et al. 2013; Pospiech et al. 2014, 2015). The present study follows our previous research in which we addressed, through interviews, the "Phys-Math" PCK of expert high school physics teachers from Israel and Germany (Lehavi et al. 2013, 2015; Pospiech et al. 2015). Here we report on a study which follows this research by analysing data collected from classes. The data was collected by videotaping physics lessons at middle school level. The videotapes were analysed, looking specifically for incidents in which Phys-Math interplay is evident.
(2016) EDULEARN16: 8TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON EDUCATION AND NEW LEARNING TECHNOLOGIES. p. 7699-7709 Abstract
This article describes the experience, in Ukraine Pedagogical Universities, of training prospective physics teachers in computer modeling. The article focuses on a study carried out in the context of a course on "Computer Modeling" taught in the fourth year out of a five years training program. The purpose of the course is to expand the students' idea of modeling as one of the modern methods of learning. The learning goals include: the concept of computational experiments, modeling of deterministic and stochastic systems and skills of using software environments for creating computer models. In addition, a central goal is to familiarize students in using educational computer models as a means of learning and research activities. The teaching approach. One of the main forms of training activities on computer modeling in this course is laboratory work: students solve computer simulation problems using three different software tools and expand their understanding of the opportunities of using certain software tools for creating and studying computer models of physical processes. They learn to choose the programming environment for the computer implementation of a mathematical model. A teaching program and manual "Modeling of Physical Phenomena in Computer Training Programs" (with a CD) has been developed for the course. It was approved by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine and was implemented in six Pedagogical Universities in Ukraine. The course is divided into five separate logically completed content modules. Each module contains a list of outcomes of students' knowledge after studying the module including basic concepts and basic skills, content of the module with approximate training time, and a list of related topics with annotations. A pedagogical experiment was conducted from 2007 to 2009. The experiment investigated the hypothesis that the training of prospective physics teachers to create computer models of physical phenomena and processes an
(2015) Eurasia Journal Of Mathematics Science And Technology Education. 11, 2, p. 217-225 Abstract
Citizens need the capability to conduct their own inquiry projects so that they can make sense of claims about new energy policies, health remedies, or financial opportunities. To develop the lifelong capability to grapple with these dilemmas, we report on ways to design precollege units that engage students in realistic, personally relevant investigations. Our investigations and syntheses of related work have resulted in the knowledge integration framework. This constructivist framework shows that, to succeed, learners build on what they know and use reasoning strategies to make sense of new information. To help designers we have identified a pattern that can guide instructional designers. The pattern involves supporting students to articulate their existing ideas, add new, normative ideas, distinguish them from their existing ideas, and reflect on their experiences as they increase the coherence of their ideas. To guide students, we are currently investigating automated guidance based on analysis of natural language essays students write while investigating complex problems such as global climate change.
Technology to support teachers using evidence from student work to customize technology-enhanced inquiry units(2015) Instructional Science. 43, p. 229-257 Abstract
Teachers' involvement in curriculum design is essential for sustaining the relevance of technology-enhanced learning materials. Customizing-making small adjustments to tailor given materials to particular situations and settings-is one design activity in which busy teachers can feasibly engage. Research indicates that customizations based in evidence from student work lead to improved learning outcomes. In this paper, we examine the customizations of four middle and high school teachers during their enactments of web-based inquiry science units. We examine how specific technology features afforded their customizations by providing tools for making adaptations and by making student work available as evidence for those adaptations. Cases built from classroom video and field note observations, interviews, and teachers' curriculum artifacts, revealed three kinds of customizations: (a) devising timely instructional interventions to provide individualized guidance; (b) planning activities and adjusting milestones to align with students' progress; (c) modifying existing materials to better integrate content into overall curriculum plans; and (d) incorporating scaffolds to better address students' needs. We also identified three technology features that supported teachers' customizations: (1) a system that logs student work for teachers' inspection; (2) tools for conducting dynamic, formative assessment; and (3) an authoring environment that supports the re-design of units at multiple levels of granularity. We end by suggesting design principles for curriculum materials that support teachers' customizations, as well as future directions for technology that would enhance teachers' participation as designers.
Supporting teachers who introduce curricular innovations into their classrooms: problem-solving perspective(2013) Physical Review Special Topics-Physics Education Research. 9, 1, Abstract
When classroom teachers introduce curricular innovations that conflict with their former deeply rooted practices, the teachers themselves experience a process of change. One professional development framework intended to support this change is the customization workshop, in which teachers cooperatively customize innovations to their own classroom contexts, reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of classroom implementation, and refine their innovations. Two goals sometimes conflict in such workshops: developing teachers' skills as reflective practitioners (process) and maintaining crucial characteristics of the original innovations (product). This paper explores how to meet both challenges using the insights from a perspective that provides a striking parallel: developing expertlike problem-solving skills (process) as well as conceptual understanding (product) in the physics classroom. We apply this perspective by (a) characterizing an expertlike approach to pedagogical problem solving in the context of customization workshops, (b) determining the nature of pedagogical problems best suited for developing such an expertlike approach, (c) suggesting how to design customization workshops that support teachers to develop an expertlike approach to pedagogical problem solving. In particular, we hypothesize that applying cognitive apprenticeship in customization workshops in a manner similar to its application in the teaching of expertlike problem solving in the physics classroom should effectively help teachers approach the pedagogical problem of customization in an expertlike manner. We support our hypothesis with an empirical study of three year-long cooperative customization workshops for physics teachers that differed in terms of mentoring approach. We examined the questions (a) under which mentoring approaches did teachers perform an expertlike pedagogical problem-solving process and (b) which practices and perceptions emerged through execution of this process?
(2013) Studies in Science Education. 49, 1, p. 69-91 Abstract
Children learn in formal (school) and informal (out-of-school) contexts. Do these children integrate what they learn in these different contexts? While some research shows that they do most of the literature points to a serious lack of contact between these contexts when dealing with related content. During the last two decades, many education researchers have called to bridge this gap. The aim of this paper is to develop a model to guide dialogue and cooperation between staff members within formal and informal educational contexts, in order to foster this integration. We present: (1) a rationale for bridging between formal and informal learning contexts, including the need for a comprehensive and practical model to guide this effort; (2) a design-based research methodology for developing the model; and (3) the resulting 4x4-bridging model. We argue that this model can help educators, engaged in formal and informal learning, to develop practical and productive partnerships with each other.
A Metacognitive Teaching Strategy for Preservice Teachers: Collaborative Diagnosis of Conceptual Understanding in Science(2012) Metacognition In Science Education: Trends In Current Research. p. 225-250 (Contemporary Trends and Issues in Science Education). Abstract
Utilizing public scientific web lectures to teach contemporary physics at the high school level: A case study of learning(2011) Physical Review Special Topics-Physics Education Research. 7, 2, 020108. Abstract
This paper describes a teaching experiment designed to examine the learning (i.e., retention of content and conceptual development) that takes place when public scientific web lectures delivered by scientists are utilized to present advanced ideas in physics to students with a high school background in physics. The students watched an exemplary public physics web lecture that was followed by a collaborative generic activity session. The collaborative session involved a guided critical reconstruction of the main arguments in the lecture, and a processing of the key analogical explanations. Then the students watched another exemplary web lecture on a different topic. The participants (N = 14) were divided into two groups differing only in the order in which the lectures were presented. The students' discussions during the activities show that they were able to reason and demonstrate conceptual progress, although the physics ideas in the lectures were far beyond their level in physics. The discussions during the collaborative session contributed significantly to the students' understanding. We illustrate this point through an analysis of one of these discussions between two students on an analogical explanation of the Aharonov-Bohm effect that was presented in one of the lectures. The results from the tests that were administered to the participants several times during the intervention further support this contention.
Towards accomplished practice in learning skills for science (LSS): the synergy between design and evaluation methodology in a reflective CPD programme(2011) Research in Science & Technological Education. 29, 1, p. 49-69 Abstract
This study was carried out in the framework of continuous professional development (CPD) programmes following a CPD model aimed at promoting 'accomplished practice' involving: pedagogical knowledge, content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and scholarship of teaching. Teachers were asked to bring evidence about their practice. The context was related to the 'Learning Skills for Science' (LSS) programme, which advocates the explicit incorporation of high-order learning skills into science school curricula. The main goal of the study was to test the evidence-based LSS CPD model by investigating the impact of its related CPD programmes on participating teachers. The impact relates to teachers' perceptions about teaching learning skills, teachers' LSS practice, and their professional influence in the educational system. As part of the evaluation method, we developed a criterion-based diagnostic tool and a visual representation, designed to assess a teacher's professional profile and progression according to dimensions of 'accomplished practice'. The diagnostic tool can be adjusted and tailored to different CPD domains. Results indicated that requiring teachers to bring evidence from practice and students' learning enabled us to follow teachers' progress and succeeded to improve their performances towards accomplished LSS practice. The results exemplify a synergy between CPD designed activities and the ongoing evaluation of its impact.
(2010) Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 47, 9, p. 1094-1115 Abstract
Students at the junior high school (JHS) level often cannot use their knowledge of physics for explaining and predicting phenomena. We claim that this difficulty stems from the fact that explanations are multi-step reasoning tasks, and students often lack the qualitative problem-solving strategies needed to guide them. This article describes a new instructional approach for teaching mechanics at the JHS level that explicitly teaches such a strategy. The strategy involves easy to use visual representations and leads from characterizing the system in terms of interactions to the design of free-body force diagrams. These diagrams are used for explaining and predicting phenomena based on Newton's laws. The findings show that 9th grade students who studied by the approach advanced significantly from pretests to post-tests on items of the Force Concept Inventory-FCI and on other items examining specific basic and complex understanding performances. These items focused on the major learning goals of the program. In the post-tests the JHS students performed on the FCI items better than advanced high-school and college students. In addition, interviews conducted before, during, and after instruction indicated that the students had an improved ability to explain and predict phenomena using physics ideas and that they showed retention after 6 months. (C) 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 47: 1094-1115, 2010
SCHOOL CHILDREN AS THE AGENTS FOR CHANGE(2010) Abstract
This article describes a teaching unit for Junior High School (JHS) students in Israel developed by a multidisciplinary team of experts from the fields of science teaching, medicine and dietetics. The unit aims to teach the main ideas of health and nutrition in a way that will arouse the students' curiosity and be relevant to them. To enhance learning, the team designed a virtual interactive learning environment which was implemented in a pilot study with several JHS schools.. This environment is based on data compiled by the Nutrition Department of the Israeli Ministry of Health, and includes nutrient values for more than 4,500 foods as well as the daily recommended nutrients and energy intake (DRI) for individuals. This interactive program can help users to create a personalized balanced menu and compare the user's consumption of nutrients with the recommended diet. The results of the comparison are depicted through various forms of knowledge representations such as text, histograms and charts, which cater to different teaching/learning/evaluating styles. The unit employs effective teaching methods such as authentic problem solving and communicating with others. The results of the pilot study suggest that through this technology-enhanced environment students can assimilate the main ideas of health and nutrition. Moreover, the findings show that students tend to share their acquired nutritional knowledge with their families thus acting as agents for change in this important area of knowledge.
(2010) International Journal of Science Education. 32, 2, p. 245-264 Abstract
This paper deals with the features and design of explanations in public physics lectures. It presents the findings from a comparative study of three exemplary public physics lectures, given by practicing physicists who are acknowledged as excellent public lecturers. The study uses three different perspectives: the lecture, the lecturer, and the audience (high school physics teachers and students). It concludes with a grounded theory explanatory framework for public physics lectures. The framework demonstrates that a "Translated Scientific Explanation" (TSE) draws upon four clusters of explanatory categories: analogical approach, story, knowledge organization, and content. The framework suggests how the lecturer fits the content of the presentation to the audience's knowledge throughout the lecture, taking into account the listeners' lack of necessary prior knowledge.
TEACHING SCIENTIFIC COMMUNICATION SKILLS IN SCIENCE STUDIES: DOES IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE?(2009) International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education. 7, 5, p. 875-903 Abstract
This study explores the impact of 'Scientific Communication' (SC) skills instruction on students' performances in scientific literacy assessment tasks. We present a general model for skills instruction, characterized by explicit and spiral instruction, integration into content learning, practice in several scientific topics, and application of performance tasks. The model was applied through an instructional program that focuses on the following learning skills: information retrieval, scientific reading and writing, listening and observing, data representation, and knowledge presentation. Throughout the 7th-8th grades, 160 students learned the whole program or one of its components: structured instruction (SI) of SC skills, or performance tasks (PT). A comparison group of 42 students did not receive instruction of SC skills. Students' performances were assessed through a questionnaire and a complex task that measured students' scientific content knowledge, SC skills, and the quality of the final products. Results indicated that students who learned the whole program or one of its components achieved higher scores in all categories than the comparison group students. High achievers can benefit from just one component of the program: either structured instruction (SI) or learning from practice (PT). However, they can hardly acquire SC skills spontaneously. Low and average achievers require both components of the SC program to improve their performances. Results show that without planned intervention, the spontaneous attainment of SC skills occurs only to a limited extent. Systematic teaching of skills can make a significant difference. The explicit instruction of skills integrated into scientific topics, the opportunities to implement the skills in different contexts, the role of performance tasks as 'assessment for learning'-all these features are important and necessary for improving students' scientific literacy. Our general model of skills instruction can be ap
(2009) European Journal of Teacher Education. 32, 2, p. 135-150 Abstract
Israeli junior high-school science teachers usually have a background in biology, and their knowledge of physics is limited. We show that by improving teachers' qualitative understanding it is possible to increase their confidence and willingness to teach physics. We conducted three-day workshops for teachers (n=92), which were followed by ongoing activities and support. The teacher workshops were based on a new qualitative approach that we developed for studying mechanics, which has been shown to be effective with students. A study of teachers who had not participated in the workshop shows that they had the same conceptual difficulties as their students. A comparison of pre- and post-workshop questionnaires indicates that the participating teachers gained self-confidence in their ability to explain everyday phenomena, changed their views about the relevance and interest of physics to the students and were willing to implement the method in their classes.
(2008) Journal of Science Education and Technology. 17, 4, p. 399-409 Abstract
The present study examined continuity of learning between face-to-face and online environments in a "blended'' professional development program designed for 16 physics teachers. The program had nine face-to-face meetings as well as continuous online exchanges between them through a website. The program focused on "knowledge integration'' (KI) innovative activities in physics classes using an "evidence-based'' approach: The teachers implemented the activities, collected and analyzed data about their practice and their students' learning, and reflected on the evidence with their peers. Five reflective tools were used to promote continuity: Your Comments, Hot Polls, Smashing Sentences, Hot Reports, and Mini Research. Continuity was assessed with regard to the ideas discussed by the teachers and the reasoning patterns that they employed. Analysis of the online exchanges in relation to teachers' face-to-face discourse revealed that the teachers discussed the same ideas (KI, evidence and learner-centered pedagogies), employed the same reasoning patterns (e. g., forming generalizations), and extended ideas in re-visitation. The online and face-to-face environments played different and complementary roles in the teachers' learning. This study shows that appropriate use of an online environment in a blended program can lead to a continuous course of learning and can transform a "9 once-a-month-meetings'' workshop into a "9-month" workshop.
(2008) Teaching and Teacher Education. 24, 2, p. 462-477 Abstract
This paper describes a general model for skills instruction and its implementation through the program "Scientific Communication" for acquiring learning skills. The model is characterized by modularity, explicit instruction, spiral integration into contents, practice in various contexts, and implementation in performance tasks. It requires flexible planning and implementation by the teachers. The study investigated how science teachers implemented this model for a two-year period. Results show that they coped with this task by customizing the program; they underwent a positive change in perceptions about skills instruction, instructional models, using instructional materials, influence and involvement in school and beyond. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Learning about Teachers' Accomplishment in 'Learning Skills for Science' Practice: The use of portfolios in an evidence-based continuous professional development programme(2008) International Journal of Science Education. 30, 5, p. 643-667 Abstract
The study in this paper was carried out in the framework of an evidence-based continuous professional development (CPD) programme in which teachers documented evidence about their practice in a portfolio. The context of the CPD was related to the 'Learning Skills for Science' (LSS) programme, which advocates the incorporation of high-order learning skills and capabilities into science school curricula, in addition to content knowledge. The LSS comprises high-order scientific communication skills such as information retrieval, scientific reading, scientific writing, listening and observing, information representation, and knowledge presentation. The main goal was to study what can be learned from evidence-based portfolios about teachers' LSS practice. More specifically we studied the dimensions and levels of teachers' practice, the profiles of teachers' accomplishment, and their ability to present evidence about their practice. We analysed 12 teachers' portfolios (34 pieces of evidence) using a diagnostic tool that reflected the various dimensions of teachers' accomplishment in LSS practice: P: Perceptions of LSS instruction; M: Model of instruction; T: Using learning materials; A: Assessment; I: Influence in the school system; E: Evidence preparation. For each of these dimensions we identified a hierarchy of levels on a scale of 1-5. The diagnostic tool revealed diverse LSS multidimensional professional profiles which demonstrated strong and weak aspects in teachers' performance. We concluded that evidence-based portfolios about teachers' practice can serve as tools for assessment of teachers' accomplishment (for example, for accreditation purposes) and as an authentic resource for customising professional development programmes to the needs of individual teachers.
(2008) International Journal of Science Education. 30, 5, p. 577-591 Abstract
The focus of this collaborative research project of King's College London, and the Weizmann Institute, Israel is on investigating the ways in which teachers can demonstrate accomplished teaching in a specific domain of science and on the teacher learning that is generated through continuing professional development (CPD) programmes that lead towards such practice. The interest lies in what processes and inputs are required to help secondary-school science teachers develop expertise in a specific aspect of science teaching. It focuses on the design of the CPD programmes and examines the importance of an evidence-based approach through portfolio-construction in which professional dialogue paves the way for teacher learning. The set of papers highlights the need to set professional challenges while tailoring CPD to teachers' needs to create an environment in which teachers can advance and transform their practice. The cross-culture perspective adds to the richness of the development and enables the researchers to examine which aspects are fundamental to the design by considering similarities and differences between the domains.
An evidence-based continuous professional development programme on knowledge integration in physics: A study of teachers' collective discourse(2008) International Journal of Science Education. 30, 5, p. 619-641 Abstract
We describe an evidence-based continuing professional development programme on knowledge integration (KI) for high-school physics teachers. Sixteen teachers participated in the year-long programme (about 40 face-to-face lessons and in-between computerised interactions). The teachers experienced the KI activities as learners and then engaged in an 'evidence-based' approach, i.e. implemented the activities in their classes, collected data about teaching and learning, analysed the data, and discussed the evidence collaboratively. The study investigated teachers' learning throughout the programme as reflected in the collective discourse held during the meetings by examining the ideas that were raised and how they were influenced by the evidence-based approach. The discourse reflects progress in teachers' tendencies and abilities to continuously find out about individual students' learning, and to adopt 'learner-centred' views. These views of teaching and learning related to the importance and legitimacy of students' learning from peers, the need to listen carefully to students' ideas and reflections, and the need to use a variety of methods for investigating students' learning in order to plan teaching. Importantly, teachers realised the need for the KI activities and their advantages. They were more willing to adapt them with required customisations. The evidence-based approach triggered two central reasoning patterns influencing teachers' learning: contrasting expectations with facts and making generalisations. Towards the end of the programme, the teachers realised the general importance of the evidence-based approach, beyond its support of the particular domain of KI, and they concluded that examination of their practice is a powerful tool for enhancing their teaching as well as their students' learning.
(2008) Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 45, 1, p. 132-152 Abstract
This longitudinal study investigated the progression in junior high school (JHS) students' conceptions of the structure of matter while studying a new instructional approach dealing with "Materials." In particular, we studied the progression of students' learning along two dimensions: (a) the conceptual model; and (b) the context of application. Students were asked to draw the structure of several materials and to write their explanations about the structure of these materials in questionnaires administered five times during a 3-year period. Results indicate students' progression in their microscopic conceptualization of materials. Toward the end of the instruction about 85% of the students used a microscopic model in their representations, and 36% were able to give a molecular model. About 83% of the students retained a microscopic model. Different profiles of JHS students' progression in the conception of the structure of matter were identified. The study suggests that a long-term development of the particulate model requires: (a) constructing a solid foundation of knowledge about microscopic structure of materials; and (b) a spiral instruction. (c) 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Explanatory framework for popular physics lectures(2007) 2007 Physics Education Research Conference. 951, p. 124-127 Abstract
Popular physics lectures provide a 'translation' that bridges the gap between the specialized knowledge that formal scientific content is based on, and the audience's informal prior knowledge. This paper presents an overview of a grounded theory explanatory framework for Translated Scientific Explanations (TSE) in such lectures, focusing on one of its aspects, the conceptual blending cluster. The framework is derived from a comparative study of three exemplary popular physics lectures from two perspectives: the explanations in the lecture (as artifacts), and the design of the explanation from the lecturer's point of view. The framework consists of four clusters of categories: 1. Conceptual blending (e.g. metaphor). 2. Story (e.g. narrative). 3. Content (e.g. selection of level). 4. Knowledge organization (e.g. structure). The framework shows how the lecturers customized the content of the presentation to the audience's knowledge. Lecture profiles based upon this framework can serve as guides for utilizing popular physics lectures when teaching contemporary physics to learners lacking the necessary science background. These features are demonstrated through the conceptual blending cluster.
Physics learning in the context of scaffolded diagnostic tasks (I): The experimental setup(2007) 2007 Physics Education Research Conference. 951, p. 27-30 Abstract
For problem solving to serve as an effective learning opportunity, it should involve deliberate reflection, e.g., planning and evaluating the solver's progress toward a solution, as well as self-diagnosing former steps while elaborating on conceptual understanding. While expert problem solvers employ deliberate reflection, the novices (many introductory physics students) fail to take full advantage of problem solving as a learning opportunity. In this paper we will focus on self-diagnosis as an instructional strategy to engage students in reflective problem solving. In self-diagnosis tasks students are explicitly required to carry out self diagnosis activities after being given some feedback on the solution. In this and a companion paper, we will present research exploring the following questions: How well do students self-diagnose, if at all, their solutions? What are the learning outcomes of these activities? Can one improve the act of self-diagnosis and the resulting learning outcomes by scaffolding the activity?.
Research-design model for professional development of teachers: Designing lessons with physics education research(2006) Physical Review Special Topics-Physics Education Research. 2, 2, Abstract
How can one increase the awareness of teachers to the existence and importance of knowledge gained through physics education research (PER) and provide them with capabilities to use it? How can one enrich teachers' physics knowledge and the related pedagogical content knowledge of topics singled out by PER? In this paper we describe a professional development model that attempts to respond to these needs. We report on a study of the model's implementation in a program for 22 high-school experienced physics teachers. In this program teachers (in teams of 5-6) developed during a year and a half (about 330 h), several lessons (mini-modules) dealing with a topic identified as problematic by PER. The teachers employed a systematic research-based approach and used PER findings. The program consisted of three stages, each culminating with a miniconference: 1. Defining teaching and/or learning goals based on content analysis and diagnosis of students' prior knowledge. 2. Designing the lessons using PER-based instructional strategies. 3. Performing a small-scale research study that accompanies the development process and publishing the results. We describe a case study of one of the groups and bring evidence that demonstrates how the workshop advanced: (a) Teachers' awareness of deficiencies in their own knowledge of physics and pedagogy, and their perceptions about their students' knowledge; (b) teachers' knowledge of physics and physics pedagogy; (c) a systematic research-based approach to the design of lessons; (d) the formation of a community of practice; and (e) acquaintance with central findings of PER. There was a clear effect on teachers' practice in the context of the study as indicated by the materials brought to the workshop. The teachers also reported that they continued to use the insights gained, mainly in the topics that were investigated by themselves and by their peers.
Teachers' investigation of students' self-perceptions regarding physics learning and problem-solving(2005) 2004 Physics Education Research Conference. 790, p. 181-184 Abstract
Transfer is required in nearly every activity of problem solving. It spans from transferring procedures within a finite set of similar "end of the chapter problems" to applying problem solving strategies in completely unfamiliar problems. Students' self-perceptions, in the context of problem solving and learning, influence the success of instruction promoting transfer. Hence, teachers have to attend to such self-perceptions. We conducted a cooperative inquiry workshop to support teachers who modify their instruction in problem solving to better achieve transfer goals. As part of the workshop, the teachers raised the need to develop a questionnaire examining students' self-perceptions in the context of problem solving and learning in physics. The development of the questionnaire was supported by educational research, in a manner reflecting the teachers' motivation and time limits. In this paper, we describe the process of developing the questionnaire, present findings from a validation analysis of the questionnaire, and discuss its role in the teachers' professional development.
SCIENTIFIC COMMUNICATION: AN INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAM FOR HIGH-ORDER LEARNING SKILLS AND ITS IMPACT ON STUDENTS' PERFORMANCE(2005) Research And The Quality Of Science Education. p. 231-243 Abstract
In this paper we describe an instructional model for the acquisition of high order learning skills (HOLS) and the program "Scientific Communication", which supports its application in a junior high school (JHS) science and technology curriculum. The model emphasizes explicit and spiral instruction of learning skills, and a continuous demand for their implementation in various contexts and tasks. We describe a study that assessed the impact of our instructional model on students' performances. Students (N=447) from five different JHSs participated in the study: One group (N=334) studied the program "Scientific Communication", and the other (N=113) did not study learning skills through any formal program. The results show superior performance of the first group over the second in the following ways: the ability to describe and explicate the practice of learning skills; three aspects of the actual performances of a complex task: knowledge, learning skills, and the quality of products; and reports by students on the skills that they had acquired. The results also indicate that high and average achieving students gained the most from the program. We concluded that the contribution of the program "Scientific Communication" to students' performances of learning skills indicates the potential of its underlying instructional model in achieving its goals.
We actually saw atoms with our own eyes - Conceptions and convictions in using the scanning tunneling microscope in junior high school(2004) Journal of Chemical Education. 81, 4, p. 558-566 Abstract
A new avenue of teaching the structure of materials is possible as a result of the development of high-resolution microscopes such as the scanning tunneling microscope (STM), which enables inspection of materials at atomic-level resolution. The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the feasibility and potential contribution of using the STM as a learning tool in junior high school (JHS) to support instruction about the particulate nature of matter. Fifteen JHS science teachers and 60 students visited a materials research laboratory. After hearing a short introduction about the functions of the STM and its applications, the teachers and students performed several tasks. The results showed that although the teachers were concerned about possible difficulties in using the STM with JHS students, this activity contributed to the students' understanding of the particulate nature of matter and to their conviction of its existence. Students who demonstrated a particulate conception of matter succeeded in "seeing" atoms, although what they actually saw were bright and dark areas. Students who did not demonstrate a particulate conception of matter before the STM activity, were more convinced about the existence of atoms after the activity.
Assessing reflection on practice: A problem solving perspective(2004) 2003 Physics Education Research Conference. 720, p. 153-156 Abstract
Reflection on practice (ROP) serves to support teachers that introduce innovative instruction into their classrooms. There is an inherent dilemma between competing goals in ROP workshops: developing teachers' skills as reflective practitioners (process), vs. developing specific favored practices (result). This dilemma affects the evaluation of such workshops, as evaluation methods should align with the goals. In this paper we will gain insight on how to resolve the dilemma from the perspective of teaching scientific problem solving, where a similar dilemma between process and result is sharply manifested and thoroughly explored. Assessment methods and tools derived from this perspective were applied in a formative evaluation of a workshop for high school physics teachers. We will show how these analysis tools enabled us to identify differences in outcomes between versions of yearlong workshops that used different approaches to guidance of ROP. Our research can contribute to the planning and evaluation of ROP workshops.
Effect of knowledge integration activities on students' perception of the earth's crust as a cyclic system(2003) Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 40, 6, p. 545-565 Abstract
Systems thinking is regarded as a high-order thinking skill required in scientific, technological, and everyday domains. However, little is known about systems thinking in the context of science education. In the current research, students' understanding of the rock cycle system after a learning program was characterized, and the effect of a concluding knowledge integration activity on their systems thinking was studied. Answers to an open-ended test were interpreted using a systems thinking continuum, ranging from a completely static view of the system to an understanding of the system's cyclic nature. A meaningful improvement in students' views of the rock cycle toward the higher side of the systems thinking continuum was found after the knowledge integration activity. Students became more aware of the dynamic and cyclic nature of the rock cycle, and their ability to construct sequences of processes representing material transformation in relatively large chunks significantly improved. Success of the knowledge integration activity stresses the importance of postknowledge acquisition activities, which engage students in a dual process of differentiation of their knowledge and reintegration in a systems context. We suggest including such activities in curricula involving systems-based contents, particularly in earth science, in which systems thinking can bring about environmental literacy. (C) 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
From fragmented knowledge to a knowledge structure: Linking the domains of mechanics and electromagnetism(2000) American Journal of Physics. 68, 7, p. S16-S26 Abstract
The traditional teaching of physics in separate domains leads to a fragmented knowledge structure that has an adverse effect on the comprehension and recall of the central ideas. We describe a new program: MAOF ("overview" in Hebrew), which relates large parts of mechanics and electromagnetism to each other via the key concepts of field and potential, and at the same time treats students' conceptual difficulties. The MAOF program can accompany any conventional course in mechanics and electromagnetism as part of the review process. The instructional model integrates problem solving, conceptual understanding, and the construction of a knowledge structure. It consists of five stages: solve, reflect, conceptualize, apply, and link. In order to construct the relationships within a domain, students solve simple and familiar problems, reflect on their solution methods, identify the underlying principles, and represent them in visual form, forming concept maps. Additional activities deal with conceptual difficulties and application of the information represented in the concept map. The maps are constructed at different levels of detail and are applied in further problem solving. Students who studied with MAOF significantly improved their understanding of central ideas associated with fields and potentials. They improved their understanding of the relationship between general concepts and their examples, and could better solve familiar and unfamiliar problems using these concepts. (C) 2000 American Association of Physics Teachers.
(1997) American Journal of Physics. 65, 8, p. 726-736 Abstract
An investigation of students' knowledge after a traditional advanced high-school course in electromagnetism shows deficiencies of their knowledge in three major areas: (1) the structure of knowledge-e.g., realizing the importance of central ideas, such as Maxwell's equations (expressed qualitatively); (2) conceptual understanding-e.g., understanding the relationships between the electric field and its sources; and (3) application of central relationships in problem solving. To remedy these deficiencies we propose an instructional model which integrates problem solving, conceptual understanding and the construction of the knowledge structure. The central activity of the students is a gradual construction of a hierarchical concept map organized around Maxwell's equations as central ideas of the domain. The students construct the map in five stages: (1) SOLVE-they solve a set of problems that highlight the central ideas in the domain; (2) REFLECT-they reflect on the conceptual basis of their solutions; (3) CONCEPTUALIZE-they perform activities that deal with relevant conceptual difficulties, (4) APPLY-they carry out complex applications; (5) LINK-they link their activities to the evolving concept map. This integrative model (experimental treatment) was compared to an isolated treatment of drill and practice or treatment of conceptual difficulties without Linkage to the proposed knowledge structure. The comparison shows that students in the experimental treatment performed better than the other students on measures of recall, conceptual knowledge and problem solving. Students in the experimental treatment were also able to transfer and extract central ideas in a domain different than physics. (C) 1997 American Association of Physics Teachers.
Light propagation and visual patterns: Preinstruction learners' conceptions(1997) Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 34, 4, p. 399-424 Abstract
This study formed part of a project aimed at revising the instructional approach for geometrical optics in the 10th grade. The instructional intervention was based on the extensive use of a diagrammatic representation as a descriptive, explanatory, and problem-solving tool in the domain. The purpose of this study was to elicit the conceptions and representations of light propagation, image formation, and sight typical to preinstruction learners, with special attention to identifying precursors of problematic features of postinstruction students' knowledge. The premise for this study was that the difficulties students have before, during, and after traditional instruction with respect to representing optical phenomena have their origins in the fragmented prescientific knowledge constructed on the basis of experience. We believe that the difficulties persist because the key factors leading to fragmentation are not usually addressed and remedied. The main findings of the study indicate that (a) preinstruction students display some familiarity with optical systems, light propagation, and illumination patterns; (b) student-generated graphical representations describing and explaining optical phenomena display some features of formal ray tracing; (c) preinstruction students have not developed a consistent descriptive and explanatory model for light propagation; and (d) the context of sight seems to have a confounding effect on the establishment of a unified prior model for optical phenomena.
Professional development of physics teachers through long-term in-service programs: The Israeli experience(1997) Changing Role Of Physics Departments In Modern Universities - Proceedings Of International Conference On Undergraduate Physics Education, Pts 1 And 2. 399, p. 299-326 Abstract
New approaches to the teaching of physics, influenced by insights of research on learning and teaching, require teachers to extend their existing practices as well as undergo fundamental changes in their views about learning goals, teaching/learning methods, and their role in the classroom. Teachers need not only a thorough understanding of the subject matter, but also knowledge about learning processes and students' reasoning; how to relate to students' ideas in their teaching and how to create student-centered learning environments. Since learning is a slow process, it is essential to allow time for teachers to learn in a meaningful way. The real context of teaching and on-going guidance are important ingredients in programs that would allow teachers to change their existing practices. These conditions are not met neither by short-term in service courses, nor by pre-service programs. Long-terms in-service programs as a part of an on-going long-life professional development, are necessary. We outline a framework characterizing the professional teacher, as a basis for designing in-service programs. These characteristics include: The motivation to develop professionally, professional knowledge, skills for independent professional development, practical knowledge and a reference group of other professionals. We describe two examples of inservice programs for physics teachers in Israel with reference to this framework of professional development, and report on some preliminary results of their evaluation. One of the programs is aimed at leading teachers and is designed accordingly to develop the professional teacher as well as the professional leader. We conclude with some recommendations for the design of in-service programs for physics teachers.
(1993) Computers & Education. 20, 4, p. 299-309 Abstract
Graphic representations are the main and sometimes the only effective way of communication in the domain of Geometrical Optics. Many of the conceptual difficulties students have in this domain are related to the interpretation of these representations. RAY is an open graphic interface that was designed to address these problems, serving as a teaching aid in class and as a learning environment for students. The program enables the user to create and to control various optical components such as mirrors, lenses and prisms, to produce simulated ray diagrams and to analyze them with a set of graphic tools. Since any optical setup can be easily created and explored, extensive qualitative analysis can be performed during the study, dealing with many examples of ray diagrams. Program design enables the implementation of various approaches to learning and teaching, including the ability to combine the theory and its formal representations with real demonstrations and experiments.