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Leading national conference for chemistry and physics education held in York

Posted on 30 August 2017

The Variety in Chemistry Education and Physics Higher Education Conference (ViCEPHEC) is the leading national conference for chemistry and physics education at tertiary level in the UK. This year the conference was held at the University of York between 23 and 25 August.

Delegates ranged from academic staff at universities to schoolteachers, outreach officers, laboratory specialists, technicians, students, industrialists and publishers. The event, attended by over 175 delegates, provided opportunities to share best practice within the disciplines of chemistry and physics by discussing cutting edge educational research and practice.

New for 2017 was an opportunity for conference delegates to present lecture demonstrations, experiments and outreach activities. This addition to the programme complemented the interactive workshops, oral presentations and 5 minute oral bytes presented by those most active in pedagogic research. A poster session at the National STEM Learning Centre provided further opportunities to discuss aspects of teaching and scholarship, as did the conference dinner at the National Railway Museum.

Dr Phil Lightfoot and Dr Emily Brunsden from the department of physics were both members of the organising committee and a number of physics staff gave presentations including;  Dr Christian Diget who gave a presentation entitled “Binding Blocks - teaching nuclear physics with LEGO” and Dr Charles Barton who presented his observations on “Improving physics admissions and female student intake at the University of York”. Dr Emily Brunsden gave an oral byte entitled “5 steps towards an inclusive lecture” and Katherine Leech delivered a demonstration entitled “iPads for outreach”.

Dr Phil Lightfoot commented; 'one of the most thought-provoking presentations was the keynote address delivered by Dr David Sands, chair of the Higher Education Group at the Institute of Physics entitled “Expanding Conceptual Understanding in Physics (ECUIP): an IOP project in physics education across the UK and the ROI”. This project which uses data collected from UK physics departments, assesses to what extent current university teaching leads to a deep understanding of core concepts as opposed to the more conventional outcomes. The data shared represents in a very real sense the national talent in physics, and some of the findings that are beginning to emerge indicate that great care will be needed should conceptual understanding be used as a measure of learning gain in the future'.