Developing Critical Thinking in Physics

The Apprenticeship of Critique


Part of the Contributions from Science Education Research book series (CFSE, volume 7)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vii
  2. Laurence Viennot, Nicolas Décamp
    Pages 1-9
  3. Laurence Viennot, Nicolas Décamp
    Pages 11-25
  4. Laurence Viennot, Nicolas Décamp
    Pages 27-56
  5. Laurence Viennot, Nicolas Décamp
    Pages 57-64
  6. Laurence Viennot, Nicolas Décamp
    Pages 65-73
  7. Laurence Viennot, Nicolas Décamp
    Pages 75-81
  8. Laurence Viennot, Nicolas Décamp
    Pages 83-93
  9. Laurence Viennot, Nicolas Décamp
    Pages 95-98
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 99-142

About this book


This book promotes the effective implementation and development of critical analysis in physics. It focuses on explanatory texts concerning subjects typically dealt with in secondary or higher education and addressed in an academic or popular context. It highlights the general difficulties and obstacles inherent in teaching physics and shows how some tools can help to combine successful criticism and better understanding. The book examines the main reasons to call a text into question and looks at risk factors such as simplifications, story-like explanations and visual analogies. It takes inventory of the benefits and limits of critical analysis and discusses the complex links between conceptual mastery and critical attitude. The book ends by offering tools to activate critical thinking and ways for educators to guide students towards productive critical analysis.


critical thinking in Education critical analysis in physics Education of physics science texts physics teachers common reasoning in physics questionable explanations in physics Early activation of criticism Psycho-cognitive factors Educating to critical analysis terms involved in the explanation Classroom management Critical thinking in physics Flaws in physics explanations Risk factors in physics explanations Teacher education on critical analysis Echo explanations Linear causal reasoning Simplifications in physics Conceptual mastery and critical attitude

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Matter and Complex Systems UMR 7057University of ParisParisFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Didactique André Revuz EA 4434University of ParisParisFrance

About the authors

Laurence Viennot is Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Paris, in the Laboratory of Matter and Complex Systems. After a few years of research in astrophysics, she turned to the didactics of physics, of which she is one of the pioneers at the international level. She was a member of the first board of European Science Education Research Association. Among her research themes, common reasoning in physics and the development and evaluation of teaching sequences in physics occupy a major place. She has received two international medals (IUPAPE and GIREP).  Her current research focuses on the development of critical thinking in physics students.


After having defended a thesis on the interstellar medium, worked on turbulence and taught for a few years in high school, Nicolas Décamp is now a lecturer at the Physics Department of the University of Paris.  He is in charge of the master's degree in physics teaching and conducts research at the André Revuz didactics laboratory, in particular on the links between the history of science and physics didactics and on the development of critical thinking in physics students.

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Education Education (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-43772-5
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-43773-2
  • Series Print ISSN 2213-3623
  • Series Online ISSN 2213-3631
  • Buy this book on publisher's site