Popular Science Presentation
The Division of Physics Education Research is one of the research divisions in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Uppsala University. Our aim is to improve the teaching of physics through systematic examination of the experience of learning physics. In our research we explore issues such as how knowledge could be shared in more productive ways, and the effects that social and cultural practices may have on learning and how these may be mediated. The area of physics education that we focus on is principally university level undergraduate study; however, we do not exclude work in other levels of education.
We believe that research and teaching transformation go hand-in-hand with creating a teaching environment that is skilful, knowledgeable, thoughtful and built on a combination of sound practical and scientific knowledge. However making scientific claims about what constitutes good teaching and what factors are crucial for making learning both meaningful and possible is no easy task. This is because all education systems are essentially complex systems. For instance, even trying to understand why students do not complete their programmes of study takes careful consideration. Hence we often use complexity theory and derivates of this theory in our research.
What distinguishes Physics Education Research (or PER as it is known) from general education research is that it is strongly discipline based. Yet even though we have a clear focus on physics, our PER activities integrate physics, education and practical teaching knowledge. All come together in interesting and pertinent research questions, appropriate research methods and rigorous scientific analysis which generate interpretations that can guide future teaching practice.