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Physics Education

Physics Education


Physics education is an important sub-field within science education, with foci on the teaching and learning of physics both at school and university level, as well as concerned with physics teacher preparation and development and public understanding of physics.

Dr Keith S Taber is a former teacher of physics in comprehensive secondary schools and further education. After joining the Faculty of Education at Cambridge he was for a number of years responsible for the physics education route of the initial teacher education programme (the partnership PGCE course).


Service to Physics Education

Keith Taber has acted as a consultant for the Institute of Physics's project on Supporting Physics Teaching (11-14), and for the National Learning Network Physics project (that developed government sponsored learning materials for FE). He served a stint as a member of the Institute of Physics's Education Board.

For a number of years Dr Taber contributed a regular column - Reflections on Teaching and Learning Physics - to the journal Physics Education.


Physics education scholarship

Among Dr Taber's writings most relevant to physics education:

  • Taber, K. S. (2012) Upper secondary students' understanding of the basic physical interactions in analogous atomic and solar systems. Research in Science Education, 1-30. doi: 10.1007/s11165-012-9312-3
  • Taber, K. S. (2011). Patterns in nature: challenging secondary students to learn about physical laws. Physics Education, 46(1), 80-89.
  • Taber, K. S. (2011). Chemical bonding: A masterclass in teaching the topic of bonding, basing chemical explanation on physical forces. Education in Chemistry, 48(3), 87-81.
  • Taber, K. S., & Tan, K. C. D. (2011). The insidious nature of ‘hard core’ alternative conceptions: Implications for the constructivist research programme of patterns in high school students’ and pre-service teachers’ thinking about ionisation energy. International Journal of Science Education, 33(2), 259-297.
  • Tan, K.-C. D., & Taber, K. S. (2009). Ionization Energy: Implications of Pre-service Teachers’ Conceptions. Journal of Chemical Education, 86(5), 623-629.
  • Tan, K. C. D., Taber, K. S., Liu, X., Coll, R. K., Lorenzo, M., Li, J., Goh, N.K. & Chia, L.S. (2008). Students’ conceptions of ionisation energy: A cross-cultural study. International Journal of Science Education, 30 (2), pp.263-283.
  • Taber, K. S. & Tan, K. C. D. (2007) Exploring learners’ conceptual resources: Singapore A level students’ explanations in the topic of ionisation energy, International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 5, pp.375-392
  • Taber, K. S., de Trafford, T. & Quail, T. (2006) Conceptual resources for constructing the concepts of electricity: the role of models, analogies and imagination, Physics Education, 41, pp.155-160.
  • Tan, K-C. D., Taber, K. S., Goh, N-K & Chia, L-S. (2005) The ionisation energy diagnostic instrument: a two-tier multiple choice instrument to determine high school students’ understanding of ionisation energy, Chemistry Education Research & Practice, 6 (4), pp.180-197.
  • Tan, D., Goh N. K. & Chia L. S. & Taber, K. S. (2005) Development of a Two-Tier Multiple Choice Diagnostic Instrument to Determine A-Level Students’ Understanding of Ionisation Energy, Singapore: National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University. (Monograph, ISBN: 981 - 05 - 2995 – 3: 105 pages).
  • Taber, K. S. (2003) Understanding ionisation energy: physical, chemical and alternative conceptions, Chemistry Education: Research and Practice, 4 (2), pp.149-169.
  • Tan, K-C. D., Noh, N-K., Chia, L-S. & Taber, K. S. (2003) Ions and ionisation energy, Australian Journal of Chemistry Education, 62, pp.21-26, 32.
  • Taber, K. S. (2002) The science of physics teaching, Physics World, December, 53-54.
  • Taber, K. S. (2001) When the analogy breaks down: modelling the atom on the solar system, Physics Education, 36 (3), 222-226.
  • Taber, K. S. (2000) Finding the optimum level of simplification: the case of teaching about heat and temperature, Physics Education, 35 (5), pp.320-325.
  • Taber, K. S. (2000) Should physics teaching be a research-based activity?, Physics Education, 35 (3), pp.163-168.
  • Taber, K. S. (1999) Ideas about ionisation energy: a diagnostic instrument, School Science Review, 81 (295), pp.97-104.
  • Taber, K. S. (1998) The sharing-out of nuclear attraction: or I can’t think about Physics in Chemistry, International Journal of Science Education, 20 (8), pp.1001-1014.
  • Taber, K. S. (1994) Student reaction on being introduced to concept mapping, Physics Education, 29 (5), pp.276-281.
  • Taber, K. S. (1992) Girls’ interactions with teachers in mixed physics classes: results of classroom observation, International Journal of Science Education, 14 (2), pp.163-180.
  • Taber, K. S. (1991) Girl-friendly physics in the national curriculum, Physics Education, 26 (4), pp.221-226.
  • Taber, K. S. (1989) Energy - by many other names, School Science Review, 70 (252), pp.57-62.

(See a more comprehensive list of Dr Taber's publications)