C14. Commission on Physics Education

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Report on the Summer Course "Research in Physics Education"
Varenna (Italy)
July 15-25, 2003

For the first time the Research on Physics Education has been the subject of a Summer School of the International School of Physics 'Enrico Fermi', born in 1953, one of the most world-wide known institutions of the SIF (Italian Physical Society).
The Course was co-directed by Matilde Vicentini (University of Rome 'La Sapienza') and Edward F. Redish (University of Maryland - USA). The Scientific Secretary was Carlo Tarsitani (University of Rome 'La Sapienza').


  • Review of the research on cognitive models
  • Laboratory activities in physical teaching
  • Thinking about the foundations and the structure of Physics for teaching
  • Teaching Physics in a broader cultural perspective
  • Studies on the students' learning of Physics in various teaching contexts
  • The research on the design of teaching sequences
  • The role of formative assessment in teaching Physics
  • The role of computer simulations in teaching
  • Problems in teaching modern Physics

In some of the seminars information about the activities of various agencies were given: ICPE-IUPAP (Prof. J. Sahm), European Physics Society (Prof. G. Tibell), EUPEN (Prof. H. Ferdinande).

Students and observers had the opportunity to illustrate their research activities either in posters (~20) or in brief oral presentations (~10).

Lecturers and seminar speakers

  • P. Black, King's College, London (UK)
  • A. Di Sessa, University of California, Berkeley (USA)
  • M. Euler, University of Kiel (Germany)
  • H. Ferdinande, EUPEN, Universiteit Gent (Belgium)
  • N. Grimellini, Università di Bologna (Italy)
  • P. Guidoni, Università di Napoli (Italy)
  • D. Hammer, University of Maryland (USA)
  • P. Heron, University of Washington, Seattle (USA)
  • J. Mestre, University of Massachusetts (USA)
  • V. Otero, University of Colorado, Boulder (USA)
  • R. Pintò, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain)
  • E.F.Redish, University of Maryland (USA)
  • J. Sahm, Technische Universität Berlin (Germany)
  • G. Tibell, Uppsala University (Sweden)
  • M. Vicentini, Università di Roma 'La Sapienza' (Italy)
  • L. Viennot, Université Denis Diderot, Paris (France)

Data on participants

Total number of participants: 93
Number of students: 42
Number of observers: 25
Participation by women:

  • lecturers and seminar speakers: 6
  • students: 22
  • observers: 11

Number of participants not from the host country: 59

Countries represented

  • Albania
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • UK
  • USA
Number of participants from developing countries: students: 4, observers: 2
UNESCO supported the living expenses of Eastern Europe participants. No grant for living expenses was available for participants from other developing countries.

The IUPAP support for travel grants has been used for the students and observers coming from Albania, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Slovakia (2), following your suggestions (taking into account the unfavorable change from US$ to Euros.and the effective price of air travel tickets).

By next November the Proceedings will be available and 15 copies will be sent to the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste.

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