Physics Education Research

At the Department of Physics Education, the research revolves around the education and training of physics teachers and the teaching of physics in schools. The main research interests of the three working groups are:

  •   Purpose and effect of conducting experiments in the physics classroom (Erb)

  •   New teaching concepts and computer use in physics teaching (Wilhelm)

  •   Determinants and consequences of the professional competence of future physics teachers (Korneck)

In addition, you will find a brief overview of the history of the institute below.

Erb: Purpose and effect of conducting experiments in the physics classroom


The working group of Prof. Dr. Erb examines the question, why teachers and students conduct experiments in physics lessons.

In the natural sciences, the role of the experiment is primarily in the examination of hypotheses - the experiment provides the answer to a "question to nature". In physics teaching, testing hypotheses is also one of the important tasks of the experiment, but it also performs a whole series of other functions. What are these functions and under which conditions are teaching objectives achieved with the experiment? Questions like these are examined by our working group. In addition, our research interest is also the integration of novel experiments and multimedial learning environments.

Further information

Wilhelm: New teaching concepts and computer use in physics teaching


The work areas of Prof. Dr. Wilhelm are the conception and evaluation of new teaching concepts, experiments and computer use in physics teaching:

The teaching of physics should be improved in a way that enables students to better understand the subject. For this, it is necessary to consider new concepts as well as new approaches and to develop suitable materials, which are then also tested and further optimized by teachers in practice. This includes developing new experiments with new techniques and considering how new everyday devices can be integrated into physics teaching. Furthermore, computers can open up new possibilities in teaching to enable students to develop a deeper understanding of the concepts in physics. However, since most existing software is not suitable for this purpose, better software needs to be developed and it is to be researched if and how new software can facilitate physics learning.

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Korneck: Determinants and consequences of the professional competence of future physics teachers


The working group of Dr. Korneck empirically examines the professional competence and predictors for the success of physics teachers:

The group's research projects deal with teaching and learning in physics teaching, especially with the competences that future physics teachers should have in order to teach effectively. Three interlinked projects are at the center of our work: the study "Cross and side-entry into the Lehramt Physik", supported by the German Physical Society (DPG), examines the training paths and the needs of physics teachers through a nationwide survey of the ministries of education. The comparative analysis of the competencies of learner and graduate students at the beginning of the preparatory work is the focus of the project "pro-Φ" (funded by the BMBF), while Φ-actio ", a cooperative project with Prof. Dr. Kunter (Institute of Psychology) investigates the link between teacher competences and teaching (supported by the Academy for Educational Research and Teacher Training).

Further Information

A short history of our department

The Department for Physics Education was created in the course of a restructuring of the teacher training in 1970. At that time, Martin Wagenschein among others was working at the department.

Our department trains teachers for all types of schools. The Frankfurt model of educating future primary and secondary school teachers in close cooperation with the school seminars is seen as exemplary for the whole of Germany. Among the university teachers who worked in Frankfurt are Rita Wodzinski, Nikolaus Barth, Thomas Görnitz, Walter Jung, Gesche Pospich, Fritz Siemsen, Klaus Weltner and Hartmut Wiesner.

The Department for Physics Education provided pioneering impulses for national and international physics education research, such as empirical investigations of students’ conceptions of physical phenomena and the identification of learning difficulties, as well as the development of teaching concepts in order to solve them. A main focus of the institute is the development of new experimental approaches for the teaching of physics in the interplay of phenomena and interpretation, that is, the transfer of scientific knowledge production into teaching.