Thinking in Physics

The pleasure of reasoning and understanding

  • L. Viennot

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-XIX
  2. Learning to think: words, images and functions

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Laurence Viennot
      Pages 3-10
    3. Laurence Viennot
      Pages 11-18
    4. Laurence Viennot
      Pages 31-51
  3. Physics: linking factors

  4. Simplicity: Ruin or triumph of coherence?

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 79-79
    2. Laurence Viennot
      Pages 81-100
    3. Laurence Viennot
      Pages 101-111
    4. Laurence Viennot
      Pages 113-116
  5. Appendices

  6. Back Matter
    Pages 157-161

About this book


Read this book if you want to know how to give students the intellectual pleasure of understanding physics. Read it even if you fear that this goal is out of reach – you may be surprised! Laurence Viennot shows ways to deal with the awkward fact that common sense thinking is often not the same as scientific thinking. She exposes frequent and widespread errors and misunderstandings, which provide a real eye-opener for the teacher.  More than that, she shows ways to avoid and overcome them. The book argues against over-emphasis on “fun” applications, demonstrating that students also enjoy and value clear thinking.

The book has three parts:
• Making sense of special scientific ways of reasoning (words, images, functions)
• Making connections between very different topics, each illuminating the other
• Simplifying, looking for consistency, and avoiding incoherent over-simplification 

It offers a magnificent supply of insight and ideas, all of which can be put to use no matter what physics programme you teach. The examples provided in this book shed light on the processes of teaching and popularization of physics, from the high school to the early undergraduate level.

"I recommend this book to all my colleagues engaged in teaching physics and other scientific disciplines, but also to students, future teachers and all those who take pleasure in understanding"
Guy Aubert
Emeritus Professor, Université Joseph Fourier, grenoble, France


Connecting Topics in Physics Education Enquiry-based Approach Explanatory Reasoning Functional Dependencies and Associated Graphs Learning Physics Physics Education Science Literacy Scientific Thinking Teaching Physics Teaching Without Simplifying The Basis of Scientific Training The Toolbox of Physics Teaching Thought Process in Physics

Authors and affiliations

  • L. Viennot
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Didactique André RevuzUniversité de Paris VIIParis Cedex 5France

Bibliographic information