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Our Research Interests

Views about experiments (NoS)

Believes about the nature of physics, or more generally about the nature of science, represent individual and subjective conceptions and theories about the formation, ontology, meaning, justification and validity of knowledge in physics respectively sciences. Our own surveys show that a lot of pupils and also students have unprofessional believes about physics.

We were able to find out that “typical” science lab projects only achieve marginal changes in favor of an appropriate view of physics. This is insofar not astonishing as the instructions in science labs have a project-like character and therefore differ from the typical classes at school, but nevertheless do not necessarily make scientific methods an explicit topic of discussion.

In our opinion the authenticity of science labs for school students, which is among others also achieved by being situated near scientific research institutions, should be of more importance and thus be used more often. Approaches for projects, which make, next to the learning of contents, also believes about physics and an examination of those an explicit topic of discussion, are needed. For the example of experimentation – e.g. referring to the comparison of experiments in science labs with experiments at school – a corresponding concept has been developed and tested. Students conduct experiments, e.g. with plasma spheres, develop a questionnaire about the gaining of perception by experimentation and finally interview experts about epistemological questions. This makes a contribution towards the development and testing of an explicit and reflective approach conveying an appropriate and differentiated view about science and interlocks it with content. 






Adequate Handling of Uncertainties of Measurements


-establishing a normative expectancy level

-modeling competencies


Seeing as measurement uncertainties, among other things, provide clarity as to how reliable data obtained by measurement is and how it compares to other results, addressing uncertainties in measurement process is a standard procedure in physics. Leaving the discussion of uncertainties out of the physics classroom leads not only to an incorrect view of the process of experimentation, but may even imply rather questionable experimenting procedures. To establish an expectancy level concerning an adequate management of measurement uncertainties in the physics classroom, the basic content of the corresponding current guidelines and standard literature (e.g. DIN 1319-3 and especially the ISO-Standard “Guide to the expression of uncertainty in measurement”) were compiled, categorized and analyzed concerning their relevance for the physics classroom. Based on these findings, competencies were modeled on different levels, which students should acquire in order to be able to identify and manage measurement uncertainties and to draw conclusions on this basis concerning the measurement and its results.

With the aid of these results, in the end, there can be basic approaches delivered as to how measurement uncertainties may be made a subject in the physics classroom.



-Dimensionierung der Offenheit von experimentellen Lernsettings

-Untersuchung der Wirksamkeit offener Lernumgebungen

 Dieser Forschungszweig zeigt die Ungenauigkeiten in der Verwendung und die Notwendigkeit einer Präzisierung des Begriffes des offenen Experimentierens im fachdidaktischen Diskurs auf. Dazu wird auf den Ursprung der Offenheit zurückgegriffen und eine Verknüpfung mit offenem Unterricht und offenen Aufgaben hergestellt. Mit Blick auf die Übertragbarkeit dieser Grundlagen auf das Experimentieren wird schließlich unter Bezug auf bereits vorliegende Arbeiten eine Dimensionierung des Begriffes des offenen Experimentierens vorgenommen. Weiterhin werden Implikationen für die (fachdidaktische) Forschung aufgezeigt.

Development of Experiments for Teaching

Apart from the educational research projects, with which we try to combine content specific developments and quantitative-empirical evaluation, we also develop experiments related to our research fields.  One of our basic ideas is the development of analogy experiments for the discussion of (natural) phenomena in classes. We for example have already developed a lightning analogy with an electrostatic generator,  a fog wind channel to show the flow around bodies and an acoustic position fixing tool based on the GPS-principle.


further informationen:

fog wind channel

GPS Experiment



Learning-process oriented instruction involving experiments

- Application of Oser's Basis Models to instruction with experiments
- Development of learning steps

Research indicates that the effectiveness of science instruction involving experiments is below expectations. In our opinion, reasons for this discrepancy lie in too many instructional aims and too little focusedness of the functional role of experiments for the learning process. We think that an instructional model is lacking, which guides teachers in making efficient use of experiments for the learning process and suggest Oser's Basis models as a tool to increase teaching effectiveness.

The effect of lesson duration (45 vs. 60 minutes) on physics instruction in German secondary schools

Although there is no theoretical framework and hardly any empirical investigation on optimal lesson duration, several German upper level secondary schools currently prolong lesson duration from 45 minutes to 60 minutes in order to improve instructional quality. This study investigates this assumed impact of lesson duration for the case of physics instruction. Therefore 60-minute-lessons of four physics teachers are videotaped and analyzed in comparison with 45-minute-lessons of the same physics teachers from a previous study. Video analysis follows the theory of basis models of teaching and learning by Oser (2001). A pupil questionnaire and an expert instructional quality rating accompany the video analysis. This study wants to deliver first hints whether the change  in lesson duration alone impacts instructional quality or whether additional professional development is needed to make efficient use of the prolonged lessons.

Further, external and completed projects



Iconic Representation of Physics Contents

Physics contents can be displayed in different forms of representations such as for example diagrams, equations, texts or pictures. The latter ones – which can also be called iconic representations – are a typical means for the illustration of subject-specific contents. Some of those different but typical representations are often “loved” and thus occur in nearly the same way in a lot of textbooks. Here on the one hand the questions about whether learners can indeed gain a deeper understanding of the content and whether they are able to adequately interpret modifications of this illustration by only looking at this one typical form of representation, arise. On the other hand it is studied whether learners can realize and interpret relations between different iconic representations of the same issue.  






Learning with New Media (Completed Project)

The WWW offers manifold information, which do not often undergo a didactical preparation or a qualitative control.  How do pupils use the Internet and what learning successes can be expected, if they use it to work on a physics topic for school? This for example was studied on the basis of the topics “tides” and “thunderstorms”. Apart from the previous knowledge about the subject, especially evaluative competences have proven to have an impact on the gain of knowledge. Beyond this, accompanying written assignments can improve the learning with the Internet, if they fulfill conditions such as for example the writing for a real readership, the writing of texts for textbooks and the integration of multimedia elements. In the form of advices, the results of those surveys influence school practice.




"Move'in Science": an EU project on student exchange and development of didactic training materials (completed project)

The Department of Physics Education at the Ruhr-University Bochum has participated as a partner next to the University of Palermo, the Comenius University in Bratislava, the Andrei Saguna University of Constanta, the Vilnius Pedagogical University and the University Artevelde in Ghent in the EU project "Move'in Science (MiS). The aim of the project was to carry out exchange programs for prospective teachers between the participating partner countries and to develop materials for science teacher training. To do so, the working groups involved in the project developed workshops that integrated Pedagogical Content Knowledge as a core idea in the training of prospective teachers. Within of a student exchange, ten students of each of the six participating universities had the opportunity to spend four weeks at one of the other locations to visit schools and attend the workshop carried out by the partner university. The workshops were finally evaluated on their effectiveness and the materials were published together with the results as a manual online.


Experimentation in the Context of Research in a Science Lab for School Students

At extracurricular learning facilities, e.g. at a science lab for school students, pupils work project-like and experimentally on scientific questions. Science labs for school students aim, among other things, at embedding positive attitudes towards sciences and at improving the scientific basic education. In how far this is indeed achieved, however, has to be made a subject of surveys.  The present science lab for school students’ research shows that it is generally achieved to arouse the interest of pupils in scientific questions. This is, in our opinion, an important positive effect. However, it is also shown that this interest is of a rather short durability. The high interest, which can be measured immediately after a visit in the science lab, generally decreases significantly after several weeks.  This shows that there is a need for action. The high personal and monetary investments connected to science labs require an improvement of outcome. As desirable the short elation concerning sciences of young human beings in the context of a field trip might be, the connection of the visits to school and everyday life should be used for stabilizing the interest.