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Constructing physics education in different contexts: changing contexts - changing values
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics.
2010 (English)In: Socio-cultural and human values in science and technology education : Proceedings of the XIV. IOSTE Symposium / [ed] Slavko Dolinšek, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia: Institution for Innovation and Development of University of Ljubljana , 2010, 917-927 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper presents an analysis of how changes in the socio-economic context of an educational system affect the value base of the physics education embedded in this context. Based on the assumption that physics education is a socially constructed phenomenon developed within a particular socio-historical context with particular types of social relations, this study aims to highlight the features of physics education that are most sensitive to changes in the macro-context. In this paper empirical material was gathered from two countries (Laos and Russia). In both countries dramatic economic changes have taken place since the end of the 1980's, however, Laos has maintained the same one-party rule political system while the Russian political context has changed significantly. These countries also belong to the different cultural contexts of East and West, the consideration of which can contribute to an understanding of the corresponding value-base reflected in physics education. The qualitative research methodology used in this study includes data gathering through document and statistical report analysis, personal ethnographic experience and interviews with physicists and physics educators. It is argued that changes in educational values are not only discussed and experienced but actually created within physics education institutions in these countries against the backdrop of the macro-contextual changes taking place over the last twenty years.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
University of Ljubljana, Slovenia: Institution for Innovation and Development of University of Ljubljana , 2010. 917-927 p.
Keyword [en]
Laos, macro-context, physics education, Russia, values
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
didactics of physics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-42123ISBN: 978-961-92882-1-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-42123DiVA: diva2:408677
Conference
The XIV. IOSTE Symposium, Bled, Slovenia, June 13-18, 2010
Available from: 2011-04-05 Created: 2011-04-05 Last updated: 2011-04-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The role of practical work in physics education in Lao PDR
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The role of practical work in physics education in Lao PDR
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to get a better understanding of the role of practical work in physics education in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). The Lao PDR is one of least developed countries in the world with a weak base for science, and poor market opportunities for science graduates. The rapidly expanding educational system has many problems concerning quality of the infrastructure and staff competence.

A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods was used in the study in order to assure reliability of the results. Data was collected through questionnaires, interviews, video-recordings, and my own ethnographic experiences of working in the Lao educational system for more than thirty years. The study was informed and results analysed with help of curriculum perspective and Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT).

The findings show that Lao physics education curriculum at all levels is dominated by very traditional forms of teaching with an almost total absence of practical. Official curricular documents have statements prescribing teachers to do practical work in high school and university courses. However, few institutions have functioning equipment and skilled teachers for organising practical activities. Therefore, the majority of Lao students come to university and even can finish university without experience of practical work in physics. This shows the gap that exists between intended and implemented curricula. The majority of the students understand the importance of having practical activities in physics. However, after being exposed to laboratory experiments in an introductory physics course, they expressed criticism about the quality of instruction and the process of the practical work organisation. The laboratory group work analysis showed that discussions were mainly focused on understanding the experimental procedures, manipulating equipment, and collecting data for the report rather than on the physics content (object of activity, in CHAT terms).

Based on the research results, it is possible to suggest that a systemic approach is needed to stimulate the development of a new practical work culture in schools and universities. This approach should include training and incentives for science teachers, development of assessment strategies including practical work, maintenance structures for physics equipment, and technical support for the organisation of demonstrations and laboratory exercises.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Institutionen för fysik, Umeå universitet, 2011. 45 p.
Keyword
Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, laboratory work, Laos, pendulum experiment, physics curriculum, physics education research, practical activities
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
didactics of physics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-42134 (URN)978-91-7459-172-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-04-29, KBC-huset, KB3A9, Umeå University, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-04-08 Created: 2011-04-06 Last updated: 2011-04-08Bibliographically approved

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