36564 - Physics Teaching: theoretical and experimental aspects

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

The course is devoted to students willing to become  formal and/or informal science educators. Conceptual/cultural/professional competences will be developed to allow personal reflexions on basic knowledge in Physics and on teaching/learning processes, aiming at the design of science teaching paths for secondary school education.

Course contents

The course is divided in to two modules: one theoretical and the other experimental.

The first module concerns topics from Mechanics, Optics, Thermodynamics and radiation/matter interaction models to explain the greenhouse effect. About these topics knowledge and abilities introduced and developed in the course concern:

  • Physics Education research field: history, methods and open problems;

  • Research on students' difficulties in understanding physics: analysis and discussion of experimental data (from interviews, discussions and questionnaires) and of results from Physics Education research;

  • The role of history and epistemology of Physics in the teaching/learning processes;

  • The meaning and role of models and modelling processes in Physics and in teaching/learning Physics;

  • Strategies and methods in education (interactive lessons, peer-to-peer interaction, tutorials, cooperative learning, etc.).

Texts of different nature (e.g.: sections from school texts, research articles, historical-epistemological essays) are analysed in order to become familiar with the various aspects of Physics Education: the conceptual/disciplinary, the cognitive, the epistemological, the educational practical ones.

In the second module, lab sessions are offered to students where they are guided to:

  • produce physics education experiments about topics of classical physics;
  • analyse and criticise laboratory activities and their role in the design of Physics teaching paths.



Teaching materials are made available in a dropbox folder and also in the UNIBO site AMS Campus-AlmaDL through personal username and password.

The materials include slides and presentations, research articles and other materials for study (e.g.: tutorials, guides for group activities, research tools, students' protocols, etc.).

The following texts are suggested (and available from the teacher) for deeper study of the course topics. 

Gagliardi M., Giordano E. (2014), Metodi e strumenti per l'insegnamento e l'apprendimento della fisica, EdiSES.

Besson U. (2015), Didattica della fisica, Carocci.

Vicentini M., Mayer M. (a cura di) (1999). Didattica della Fisica, Loescher Editore.

Grimellini Tomasini N., Segré G. (a cura di) (1991). Conoscenze scientifiche: le rappresentazioni mentali degli studenti, La Nuova Italia, Firenze.

Concerning the lab module, exploration of the following web sites is suggested:

www.lepla.org    as far as examples of lab activities using modern technologies for data acquisition are concerned

https://phet.colorado.edu/it/simulations/category/physics  where a broad range of interactive simulations are accessible.

Teaching methods

The course is so designed as to illustrate a large variety of educational methods.

In the theoretical module students experience on themselves different types of lesson (socratic/dialogical vs. academic lectures), micro teaching activities, peer-to peer evaluation, group work supported by tutorials.
During the lab sessions (compulsory) experiments are performed, data elaborated and discussed, and small group activities of analysis of research papers are carried out.

Assessment methods

The final examination is held in the oral format. Each student is asked to discuss topics from those covered in the lessons, starting from the analysis of the materials and research articles considered in the course.

The final examination evaluates the following knowledge and competences:

  • disciplinary knowledge and disciplinary education knowledge acquired during the course and based on the supplied teaching materials ;
  • ability of analysing and criticising an educational research article;
  • ability to discuss the features of tools, methods and results of educational research work;
  • ability to manage the various aspects of Physics education (disciplinary, cognitive, epistemological, educational);
  • ability to discuss the implication of research results on the design of educational paths in Physics.

Teaching tools

Teaching materials introduced during the course are available from http://campus.unibo.it/ . The site is accessible with Unibo student's username and password.

Laboratory apparatuses and software  necessary for performing experiments and elaborate experimental data are provided.

Video and audio recorders are used to present multimedia materials (e.g.: educational applets, movies, recorded materials from implementation of teaching sequences in secondary schools, etc.).

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Barbara Pecori

See the website of Olivia Levrini