9. DIDACTICAL PHYSICS (atom.physics.helsinki.fi/~didfys/)


The main developments in didactical physics in 1999 can be summarized as follows: 1) study of learning processes based on empirical-constructive approach, 2) increased international co-operation and 3) learning to utilize modern education technology. The group has continued its project on the perceptional approach, i.e. search for constructive principles of teaching based on the conceptual and processual structure of physics (i.e. conceptualization of the separate but inter-related structures of physics) and on development of different kinds of applications for all levels of physics instruction. Among other things, this includes developing and refining the courses of the teacher education program, and planning courses for in-service training for both primary and secondary school teachers as well as development and adaptation of lecture demonstrations (http://didactical.physics.helsinki.fi/). Special emphasis has been put on the study of using concept maps in physics education. Standardized tests for assessing the conceptual understanding of physics have been developed, in collaboration with the Northern Arizona University. Other developments include exploring the use of real and virtual laboratories and simulations in physics teaching. Much emphasis has been laid on the development and renewing of the facilities of modern education technology, e.g. utilizing the Net for web-based instruction and microcomputer-based laboratory systems. Modernization of the basic equipment for demonstrations and teacher training laboratories has been continued. Another trend in developing the instrumental facilities has been to acquire apparatus for advanced student laboratory experiments, such as those defining fundamental constants.

Extensive complementary-education programmes in Didactical Physics have brought the new practices of modern processual teaching and perceptional experimentality everyday practice in many of the schools of the participants. The experiences from and results of the projects are still to be investigated and confirmed by research.

The group has continued its participation in developing and studying the educational potential of the so called Solis-project, based on a kind of national and international solar energy gathering network, on science for secondary school pupils. The writing of textbook series with extensive teachers' guides for secondary school physics has continued.

Heimo Saarikko