ICPE Working Groups

Paul Black, former chair of the commission gave the idea of setting up working groups out of ICPE members for special tasks contributing to the mandate cited above. Members of the working groups are supposed to work on their task over the year in contact to the other members of the same group. The leader of the group is considered to coordinate this work. The group members meet at the annual meetings for discussion on achievements and new ideas. This activity turned out to be an efficient way to contribute to the task of the commission. Subsequently you will find a survey of the working groups and projects with their specific tasks, their members and their achievements, as taken from the minutes of the ICPE meetings. I would like to encourage all ICPE members to continue in this activity.

Juergen Sahm, Chair of the ICPE
May 2000

Group A: Collection of Resources

  • Members 97/98: A. M. Carvalho (leader), E. Redish, M. G. Séré, V. Talisayon
  • Members 98/99: A. M. Carvalho, E. Redish, M. G. Séré, V. Talisayon
  • Members 99/2000: E. McFarland, J. Ogborn, E. Redish, M. G. Séré

Task 1998:

There exists many resources which could be of value to the physics teachers world-wide, which are, or could be, free of copyright restrictions, and which we could make available either through inexpensive copying or reprinting, or by putting on a web site, or by a combination of these two.

One obvious set of resources are the series of conference reports produced from ICPE sponsored meetings: hardly any physics teachers have access to many of these, let alone have time to look through them to find the best and/or most directly useful contributions from within them. So a first project might be to collect a list of these reports (past minutes and past newsletters would be a first guide - Anna-Maria might be the one to do this, perhaps ask Len Jossem for help) and divide up the work of reviewing them to identify the most useful pieces. Then there would have to be some way of labeling and describing those selected so that potential users could choose what would be of use to them. When such a schedule had been drawn up, a proposal should be put to the Commission and we would have to consider ways of making such a collection available.

It would be possible to explore a wider range of resources, trying to match availability with some estimate of the most widely felt needs. However, it might be best to start with work on a well defined set of materials, as proposed in the preceding paragraph.

Report 1999:

This group has been working on constructing a web resource for teachers by selecting articles from the proceedings of ICPE conferences. During the past year, the working group members in Brazil, France, and the Philippines used the proceedings of the Ljubljana and Udine conferences with their classes of pre-service teachers. The students reviewed the materials and selected those articles they found most interesting and relevant. The group reviewed the teacher's selections and found that they tended to fall into three categories:

  • articles "humanizing" physics and relating it to real-word experiences.
  • articles on modern technology including high-tech devices and the use of computers.
  • articles describing new methods of teaching fundamental concepts.
From the list of teacher-selected articles, the group chose nine that had a strong international interest, 5 from Ljubljana, 4 from Udine. During the coming year, the group will continue its efforts. Permission will be sought from the conference organizers and authors to put the selected materials on the ICPE web-site, using electronic versions already available. (Redish) The working group members with access to classes of teachers (Carvalho, Séré, Talisayon) will repeat the selection process using the Duisburg proceedings. At next year's meeting of the new ICPE, the continuing group of members will propose the continuation of work of this type.

Group B: Help to Developing Countries

  • Members 97/98: M. Kesselberg, E. Lillethun, Luo, Mukunda, T. Ryu, J. Seretlo
  • Members 98/99: M. Kesselberg, E. Lillethun, Luo, Mukunda, T. Ryu, J. Seretlo
  • Members 99/2000: E. Lillethun, S. Pak, T. Ryu, V. M. Talisayon, K. Zhao

Task 1998:

The one proposal here that seems worth pursuing (see 1996 and 1997 minutes) is that of setting up a network of those with access to e-mail and world-wide web who are sufficiently committed to physics education that they would be willing, as well as technically able, to down-load free material and make it available, at cost of copying and postage, to anyone in their country/region who might request it. The approach would then be to publicize both the materials available (see Group A, our new UNESCO sponsored book on research for teacher training, and the HELP materials as noted below) and a list of addresses of the download nodes. The task therefore is to explore contacts to set up the network. It might be the best to concentrate on Africa (Lillethun and Seretlo), but there is a China project for them to become a gateway for electronic-form information and Luo and Ryu might be able to help explore this.

Report 1999:

The group has the following suggestions of contents after discussing the ICPE Newsletter as a carrier of relevant information to developing countries:
  1. References to published information in Journals, Home-pages, Books, Conferences and Proceedings.
  2. Informative articles, drawing on work in IUPAP and ICPE, on :
    • - relationships between Physics Research and Physics Education Research
    • - the physics component in primary science programmes.
  3. Newly-written or selected articles about recent world tendencies in physics education, and/or the status, issues and challenges of physics education in selected countries.
  4. Each year a presentation of a couple of problems from the last Physics Olympiad including comments for solution on the methods used by the participants.
More ideas would be produced. However, running such a Newsletter may require the recruitment of "assistants" to the editor. These persons would have good contacts in particular countries so that they could keep the Newsletter's main editor informed about articles to be presented about their country situation.

The above suggestions should form the base for further discussions within ICPE.

E. Lillethun agreed to be responsible for a new search for contacts in developing countries interested in physics education information. These contacts should be able to download the Newsletter and distribute copies within their country, and they could also be asked to suggest other subjects which might be included.

Group C: Identification of Topics for Study in Conferences or in New Publications

  • Members 97/98: U. Ganiel, Lijnse, S. Krotov, J. Sahm
  • Members 98/99: U. Ganiel, L. Jossem, P. Lijnse, S. Krotov, J. Sahm
  • Members 99/2000: L. Jossem, S. Krotov, J. Sahm, G. Tibell, M Vicentini

Task 1998:

ICPE has sponsored conferences, and has sponsored its own publications. However, we should look at the needs of physics education rather comprehensively. In the recent past, in respect of conference topics, we have been mainly reactive, responding to ideas proposed by others. Perhaps we should be more proactive. This could imply looking in two directions:
  1. At the current areas of work in physics (pure and applied, and social effects and implications)- to see to what extent there are new possibilities for school physics which are not developed because no-one is working on the task of translating the frontier work into forms accessible to young learners so as to enrich the school (and college?) curriculum.
  2. At the current areas of research into learning and pedagogy to see what lessons are emerging which could well be used to influence the curriculum and teaching decisions in physics education.
Many of the conferences that we have sponsored have tried to combine these two aspects. Project F below will provide input into this debate, but there is no need to wait until this has produced some results.

I suggest that the four members might each produce their own lists of ideas and then share them by e-mail and discuss ways to make the best unified list, with priorities.

Report 1999:

The group discussed which topics would be appropriate for future conferences to be sponsored by the ICPE, and/or books or readers to be prepared in the future. Many were discussed, but the group finally decided on the following list of topics, arranged in order of priority as follows:
  1. Teachers, with a focus on the following issues:
    • Feedback - assessment; class quiz questions - answers for feedback
    • The role of teachers to facilitate and guide learning rather than to be sole source of information.
    • Professional development, which must be continuous throughout a teacher's career.
    • Distance education as a means to achieve the aims of professional development.
  2. "Science Literacy for All - particularly Physics".
    This should lead to a re-thinking of the justification for physics education [Conference]
  3. "Physics in Context"
    Physics in real life . Physics for solving problems, project - based physics education. [Conference Readers].
  4. Physics and other disciplines [Book, Conference]
    Linkages and connection with chemistry, biology, engineering, etc.

    Remarks: The group did not recommend conferences which deal exclusively with the "teaching of X", with X as any a rea of physics. A conferencemay contain a lecture by an expert on a topic of interest, but should not be entirely devoted to one specific topic (i.e. E&M, Optics, etc.) The topic #1 (in group C above) will be at the center of 2 meetings - GIREP-summer 2000 in Spain (August) and the Inter American Meeting in July 2000 in Brazil.

Project D:Posters

  • Member : L. Jossem

Task 1998:

Len Jossem has undertaken to make a collection of Posters available at no cost, with the details of how to obtain them. We shall then have to find ways to disseminate the information.

Report 1999:

A number (11) of posters have been selected and they have been put on the web site of the American Physical Society (APS) - for which the web address is Japan has translated and distributed copies of the Nobel Prize Posters collection.

Project E: Books on the Web

  • Member : P. Black

Task 1998:

P. Black has been pursuing the idea that four short books published in 1978 by the Higher Education Learning Project in Physics might be scanned in to electronic text and made freely available on web-sites (see A and B above). He has succeeded in obtaining a grant of 1000 UK pounds to help from the UK Institute of Physics, and collaboration from a USA/NASA funded project who will share the work. So this is now on the way.

Report 1999:

The idea, which had been presented last year has been developed in collaboration with a USA project, project NOVA, based at the University of Alabama. The aim is to put 4 books on teaching methods in undergraduate physics education on the Web. They will total about 1000 pages in all. P. Black distributed a disc version of one of the books - Individual Study in Undergraduate Science - Higher Education Learning Project. The work of scanning in the text of the books is already complete.

Project F: Folder: Physics at the Millennium

  • Member : P. Black

Task 1998:

At our August meeting, we agreed that we would offer to IUPAP that we might produce a briefing folder to give to those organising all IUPAP conferences in the year 2000. Organisers would be asked to arrange a “Physics at the Millenium” special lecture - this folder would contain ideas to help anyone invited to give such a lecture. It would be assembled by asking the chairs of each of the IUPAP Commissions to produce a piece of just a few pages, summarizing the most striking achievements in recent years and speculating about the way they think physics will go in (say) the next 20 to 30 years.

The IUPAP council in September approves this idea and it is up to P. Black to write out now the chairs to try to elicit this material.

Report 1999:

The IUPAP Council has approved a proposal to collect short articles (about 2000 words each) from the chairs of each of IUPAP's commissions, and would publish the collection under the title Physics 2000 - Physics as it enters the new Millennium. P. Black has been collecting the material, and two other editors - Len Jossem and Gordon Drake - are helping him. The Commission asked that when the booklet is published, it should also be made available on the web.

Report 2000 (April)

The booklet has been published in March 2000 and is to be distributed to all commission members. Publication on the web is in preparation.

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