Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Introduction of current research interdisciplinary topic into education - liquid crystals

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
5.01.03  Social sciences  Educational studies  Special didactics 

Code Science Field
S271  Social sciences  Special didactics 

Code Science Field
5.03  Social Sciences  Educational sciences 
context topics, liquid crystals, models, demonstration experiments, laboratory experiments, teaching modules, motivation for science, pedagogical experiment
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (16)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  33819  MSc Vitomir Babič  Educational studies  Researcher  2011 - 2014  110 
2.  05974  PhD Mojca Čepič  Educational studies  Head  2011 - 2014  820 
3.  18741  PhD Iztok Devetak  Educational studies  Researcher  2011 - 2014  647 
4.  30982  PhD Saša Dolenc (Ziherl)  Physics  Researcher  2011 - 2013  119 
5.  04810  PhD Saša Aleksej Glažar  Educational studies  Researcher  2011 - 2012  1,248 
6.  12551  PhD Ana Gostinčar Blagotinšek  Physics  Researcher  2011 - 2014  370 
7.  08083  Alenka Mozer  Educational studies  Researcher  2011 - 2014  108 
8.  29708  PhD Jerneja Pavlin  Educational studies  Researcher  2011 - 2014  352 
9.  33126  PhD Maja Pečar  Educational studies  Junior researcher  2011 - 2014  55 
10.  07777  PhD Gorazd Planinšič  Physics  Researcher  2011 - 2014  536 
11.  21815  PhD Robert Repnik  Physics  Researcher  2011 - 2014  489 
12.  28552  PhD Katarina Susman  Educational studies  Researcher  2011 - 2013  232 
13.  26467  PhD Uroš Tkalec  Physics  Researcher  2014  213 
14.  11436  PhD Milena Valenčič Zuljan  Educational studies  Researcher  2011 - 2012  433 
15.  13355  PhD Nataša Vaupotič  Physics  Researcher  2011 - 2014  285 
16.  23750  PhD Janez Vogrinc  Educational studies  Researcher  2011 - 2014  429 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0588  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education  Ljubljana  1627082  30,749 
2.  1554  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics  Ljubljana  1627007  33,822 
3.  2547  University of Maribor, Faculty of natural sciences and mathematics  Maribor  5089638051  17,900 
For years, well developed countries face decreasing interest in science and technology studies. Reasons are partly hidden in topics, which are taught during science subjects at the pre-university levels of education. Topics, which are still actively investigated by researchers and/or topics, which are tightly connected to everyday phenomena are almost non-existent. Students inevitably get the impression, that science is old-fashioned and boring. Showing the opposite may increase students’ motivation for later science and technological studies. The newly introduced topic has to fulfil some additional criteria. It has to help students attaining existing curricular goals. In-service teachers have to achieve the required knowledge in a relatively short period and without too much effort. The understanding of the new topic has to be accessible also on the basis of students’ knowledge at the level at which the topic is introduced. The new topic should help to achieve better understanding of curricular goals. Liquid crystals meet all these criteria. They are met every day in screens, iPods, mobile phones etc. Liquid crystals are a current vivid research field. New and interesting applications become realized almost every year. They have very interesting optical properties, which allow for numerous interesting and motivating demonstration and laboratory experiments, but explanations are not too difficult to comprehend. Therefore it is relatively straightforward to instruct teachers for mediating the knowledge to students, and to motivate students with their active involvement in experiments. Increase in motivation for science and technology might affect students’ later decisions for career. The general goal of the project is: Introduction of liquid crystals into all levels of education, from preschool to university and consequent increased motivation of students for science and technology. To achieve this goal we will develop teaching modules on liquid crystals. Modules will consist of newly designed demonstration and laboratory experiments accompanied by explanations of phenomena characteristic for liquid crystals. Some topics will be adapted to first contacts of students with liquid crystals in pre- and primary-school. More advanced modules will be prepared for lower and higher secondary school and high school and finally some suggestions will be prepared for the advanced level at the university. We will investigate influences of developed model experiments (for example, a mechanical model of anisotropic material) on comprehension of concepts learned by students, and the influence of newly introduced modules about liquid crystals on students’ achievements with respect to curricular goals. The specific goals liquid crystals can support their understanding are: phase transitions, optical properties and sub-microscopic presentation of matter. During the project the motivation for science and technology will be followed. One of the important results will be a monograph in Slovenian and English, which will start with a theoretical background about liquid crystals for teachers. The main part of the monograph will consist of description and instructions for experiments which introduce or show phenomena important for understanding liquid crystals, experiments showing various properties of liquid crystals and experiments showing various phenomena by using liquid crystals. The final part will consist of various interesting information concerning liquid crystals and technology based on liquid crystals, which could serve the teacher for motivating stories, seminar topics or project ideas for students. We expect that both editions (Slovenian and English) will find their readers, as workshops presenting some preliminary work on the topic were extremely well accepted by Slovenian teachers as well as by international community of researchers working on liquid crystals.
Significance for science
As already mentioned in the description of the project problem, the evaluation of teaching interventions is rather rare within the physics education. The lack is especially important for the evaluations, when introductions of new modern topics from active research into education are considered. Researchers in the field of physics education usually report new explanations and new experiments only, but they do not report evaluations of newly introduced ideas and similar. Thorough investigations of conceptual understanding are reported for some traditional curricular topics only. No reports about the results of introduction for new topics were found in the literature. Therefore the results of the project may serve as a prototype procedure when transferring actual research results into education. The whole procedure was developed for an exmple of liquid crystlas. The procedure contained development of materials for teachers and students, accompanied by newly developed experiments, was also tested in the classroom and evaluated.
Significance for the country
Today we are aware that a drastic decrease of interest for science and technology studies has developed among younger people. Introduction of new topics related to everyday experiences but also to a current scientific research, may increase the motivation for such studies. For most of the students it is not motivating learning about concepts and facts, that were discovered long ago, as it is typical for most topics in physics. Increased motivation might orient at least few students toward studies in science and technology. Early acquaintance and a good conceptual knowledge about liquid crystals later may lead to more effective development of applications using liquid crystals. Recent reports show an important breakthrough in applications like 3D laser discovered in Slovenia. It opens new directions in possible applications. Here it is not to neglect the possible need for future researchers in this field as the breakthrough happened at the Institute of Jožef Stefan in Slovenia. These facts also lead to the importance of introduction of liquid crystals at the university level. Part of the project's results considers more demanding topics about liquid crystals, appropriate for university level. It is also worth to mention that co-workers of the National Education Institute have asked researchers in physics education for suggestions of new, interesting topics related to everyday life and to current scientific research. Liquid crystals exactly fit to these requirements and the results of the project is therefore directly applicable in the school. The opinion of the National Education Institute co-workers, who are authorities with respect to school curricula, was, that liquid crystals are exactly the topic which is appropriate to be introduced as selective topic into the teaching of physics and chemistry. Indirect long lasting significance for the society is in increasing motivation for science and technology studies. In addition, the serious introduction of liquid crystals to the education has not been reported yet. Therefore the liquid crystalline society was excited on reports considering school experiments and teaching modules. Some preliminary ideas were presented for the first time at the International Liquid Crystal Conference, Krakow, 2010 at a special session devoted to Liquid crystals in Education. Organizer did not expect too much interest by the audience and the hall, where the session was organized was much too small for 300 people joining the session. The number of people attended the session presented almost a half of the attendees although they could have attended lectures at three other parallel sessions as well. The success in Krakow motivated organizers for a similar session also at the European Conference on Liquid Crystals in Maribor, 2011. Workshops about liquid crystals in education were active every day during the poster session and were constantly fully occupied. Also the session giving lectures about liquid crystals in education was filled above the capacity. The debate after lectures showed that most of the researchers also voluntary consider transfer of knowledge about liquid crystals into education; however, they do not work on these problems systematically, as their efforts are mostly oriented to the scientific research on liquid crystals. The general opinion was that the progress in this field i.e. the introduction of liquid crystals into education, is important, actually necessary and they are willing to contribute, however as non-experts in physics education research they lack the expertise in the thorough evaluation of the effect of introduction. Resutls of this project have therefore filled this gap and already intermediate results were warmly welcome at various events. Teaching modules as well as results of evaluations presented in English (a textbook in English) are the results of the project that will probably be appreciated and welcome by international community.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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