Colloquium # 264

Science Education: An Art or a Science?

by Prof. Vijay A. Singh , Raja Ramanna Fellow,
Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences,
Mumbai University, Mumbai

Friday, October 21st 3:30 PM, Seminar Hall

Science Education Research (SER) is a nascent area spanning a host of disciplines: cognitive science, psychology and physics, among others. We shall argue that there is a rigour to it and it is scientific. In this talk we shall give a avour of this discipline by highlighting three trends: (i) Discussion of Concept Inventory (CI) which is a set of carefully crafted multiple choice questions designed to elicit misconceptions which a student and even a scientist may harbour. For example if a wire carrying a current is snipped, do the electrons spill out? Granted that action and reaction are equal and opposite; are they simultaneous? (ii) Peer instruction method which ensures an interactive and lively classroom and in which the instructor is more a facilitator than a lecturer". (iii) How PER can inform science curricula and science policy. We believe that this discipline cannot thrive in a stand alone format and must be situated in science departments where it will ensure a synergestic collaborationbetween science educationists, science and liberal arts faculty and school and college teachers. While physics is the theme, our obeservations apply equally well to other subjects such as biolgy and chemistry.

About the speaker

Prof. Vijay A. Singh completed his doctoral degree from the State University of New York, Albany in 1978. He was a Professor of Physics at IIT - Kanpur for over twenty years (1984 - 2004) and Professor of Physics at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education which is a centre of The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai as well as Adjunct Professor, Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences, Mumbai University and IIT Bombay (2005-2015). He is currently Raja Ramana Fellow at the DAE led Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences located at Mumbai University. He oversaw India's Olympiad e orts as the National Coordinator, Science Olympiads. The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) launched a program to invigorate undergraduate science education, namely the National Initia- tive on Undergraduate Science (NIUS), and Prof. Singh was its national coordinator from its inception in 2004 to 2012. He has guided a large number of undergraduate students and this has resulted in several international publications ( Prof. Singh has worked at several places abroad and has been a visiting faculty at universities in the USA. He has over 150 peer-reviewed international scientific publications. He was a co-author of the NCERT Physics Textbooks for Higher Secondary School Physics. He was also the chief editor of the Bulletin of the Indian Association of Physics Teachers. One of his hobbies is to solve and design problems at school and undergraduate level physics.