Citation for the Presentation of the ICPE Medal
to Professor Paul BLACK, Kings College, London, UK
Barcelona – Thursday, August 31, 2000
Professor Paul Black, born on September 10, 1930 is awarded the ICPE medal because his remarkable contributions to physics education have been outstanding and international in their scope and influence, and have extended over a considerable period of time.
He started his scientific career in Cambridge and in Birmingham, in the beginning focusing on crystallography. But as a lecturer and reader in physics he became more and more interested in educational problems and then switched to this challenging scientific field. As a Professor of science education at Chelsea College, later at Kings College, London, he became a world wide recognised authority in science education. He was active and successful as a researcher and distributed his ideas as an author and as an editor, as well. Assessment and testing have been a special focus of his work over years.
Because of his competence he took the lead in several science curriculum projects sponsored by the Nuffield Foundation, he was director of several research and development projects and co-directed the work in science of the UK government’s national survey of school science performance for ten years (1978 to 1988). He served on the Research Grants Board of the UK Economic and Social Research Council and was chair of the Task Group on Assessment and Testing in 1987/88 which advised the Education Minister on the new policy for national testing.
But there were not only national activities. Paul Black has been successful, too, when working in an international frame, in this way influencing and bringing forward the cause of physics education world wide. So he served as consultant to the O.E.C.D. project on Innovation in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education. For six years (1985 to 1991) he was president of GIREP, i.e. Groupe Internationale de Recherche sur l’Enseignement de la Physique. For another six years (1993 to 1999) he was chair of the International Commission on Physics Education, the ICPE, and Vice-President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics from 1996 to 1999. For the same time (!996-99) he was a member of the US National Academy of Science Board on Testing and Assessment.
Currently, he is a visiting Professor at the School of Education at Stanford University, California, director of a U.K. project on developing formative assessment practices in school, and for a joint Stanford-King’s project on formative assessment in science funded by the National Science Foundation. Last but not least, he is a member of the National Academy of Science Committee on the Cognitive Foundations of Assessment.
Summarising Paul Black’s activities, he may be characterised as an ambassador of physics education who enjoys an extremely high reputation among the scientific community. His published ideas as well as his contributions to national and international policies in science education have a lasting influence to the development of physics education.
Barcelona, August 2000 Juergen Sahm, Chairman of ICPE
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