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Abstract

This study aims at giving a systematic description of the cognitive activities involved in teaching physics. Such a description of instruction in physics requires a basis in two models, that is, the cognitive activities involved in learning physics and the knowledge base that is the foundation of expertise in that subject. These models have been provided by earlier research. The model of instruction distinguishes three main categories of instruction process: presenting new information, integrating (i.e., bringing structure into) new knowledge, and connecting elements of new knowledge to prior knowledge. Each of the main categories has been divided into a number of specific instruction processes. Hereby any limited and specific cognitive teacher activity can be described along the two dimensions of process and type of knowledge. The model was validated by application to lectures and problem-solving classes of first year university courses. These were recorded and analyzed as to instruction process and type of knowledge. Results indicate that teachers are indeed involved in the various types of instruction processes defined. The importance of this study lies in the creation of a terminology that makes it possible to discuss instruction in an explicit and specific way.