- Prof. Bat-Sheva Eylon
- Dr. Esther Bagno
- Ms. Esther Magen
- Dr. Ariel Abrashkin
- Dr. Hanna Berger
- Prof. Uri Ganiel
- Korina Pollinger
- Michael Sabin
- Irina Weissman
Many students perceive high school physics as difficult and challenging. As a result, many students choose not to study physics despite meeting the threshold requirements, and those who do select it often struggle with it, with some even dropping out. This project aimed to promote learner-centered teaching, where the teachers diagnose and monitor students’ knowledge of physics. To this end, a team of physics teachers and researchers from the physics group at the Science Teaching Department have developed a series of diagnostic questions and implemented a model in the Israeli physics teachers’ community that allows teachers to monitor students’ difficulties, choose activities designed to specifically address them, and use these activities in groups of students with similar thinking characteristics.
The Diagnostic Questions: Development and Implementation
Over the course of the project, the team has developed an inventory of 150 multiple-choice diagnostic questions designed to address typical difficulties. The questions encompass the main topics of the national physics curriculum: mechanics, electromagnetism, radiation and matter. Upon choosing a certain distractor, students were required to explain their choice, thus deepening the diagnosis.
The inventory is available on the PeTeL digital platform (Personalized Teaching and Learning Environment) for easy access by both students and teachers. The repository is integrated into the PeTeL platform.
Research and Evaluation
According to a follow-up of the integration of the diagnostic questions in physics teaching, many teachers are now more aware of their students’ learning difficulties, and often adapt and modify the available diagnostic activities accordingly. It also seems that teachers integrate a significant part of those questions into their teaching routine. This project was instrumental in the “Teaching Sequences” project, in which the increased power of the diagnostic inventories led to significant impact on the professional development of learner centered teaching practices, as well as on their students’ learning.
On the 19-20.10.2020 we organized a virtual international conference on the key research, development and implementation issues of diagnosis-based teaching among researchers and leading educators. Prof. Marcia Linn from the University of California Berkeley and Prof. Paula Heron from the University of Washington Seattle participated in the conference.
The first day targeted science and mathematics educators from the world of academia and had 189 participants. The second day targeted physics education researchers and leading teachers, with 83 participants; part 2 of the second day was a closed workshop with 38 leading teachers, mentors and members of the physics education group at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
The organizing committee: Esther Bagno, Bat-Sheva Eylon, Smadar Levy, Esther Magen, Edit Yerushalmi (Alphabetical order).
Our thanks to the Eddie and Jules Trump Family Foundation for their support of the project.
- Bagno, E., Berger, H., Magen, E., Polingher, C., Lehavi, Y., and Eylon, B. (2019). Starting with physics: A problem-solving activity for high school students connecting physics and mathematics. In Pospiech, G., Michelini, M., and Eylon, B.S. (Eds.). Mathematics in Physics Education. (p 317) Springer Nature Switzerland AG.