Design and Evaluation of Virtual and Interactive Physics Learning Units

Physics Education Research Doctoral Student Proposal


The education laboratory S’Cool LAB offers high school students the chance to take part in hands-on and minds-on physics experiment sessions on-site at CERN. In these sessions students can make discoveries independently, learn to work and think scientifically, and engage directly with members of CERN's scientific community. The positive effect ofthese experiment sessions on students’ physics related conceptual understanding, interest, and self-beliefs has beenshown (Woithe, 2020).

The S’Cool LAB website also provides different resources for experiment and learning activities in the classroom. Virtual alternatives, such as online live science shows, have been developed to reach students during the global pandemic. Moreover, S’Cool LAB has just started the development of a new virtual learning format:  virtual and interactive learning units, which consist of a combination of pre-recorded explanatory videos, interactive elements, screen experiments, and pre-recorded expert interviews. I

n general, S’Cool LAB’s virtual offers have received very positive feedback from all participants. However, the evaluation of virtual learning activities is still in its early stages and commonly focused on screen experiments or MOOCs.

The aim of this Ph.D. project is to design and evaluate virtual and interactive learning units about CERN related physicstopics and applications (e.g., in medicine). In the framework of this Ph.D. project, a study should examine the effects of these learning units on students’ cognitive and affective variables (e.g., physics related conceptual understanding, self-concept, interest, or career aspirations). Based on the results of the study, recommendations for the design of virtualand interactive learning units could be given. Moreover, the results could be compared to findings of past empirical studies about the effects of other virtual learning formats (e.g., screen experiments or MOOCs).

Training Value

The successful applicant will learn about different methods in Physics Education Research to design and evaluate virtual and interactive learning units. For the study a mixed methods approach is foreseen, which combines qualitative  research methods and quantitative research methods. Moreover, the successful applicant will get an insight into the international environment offering on-site and virtual learning activities for students.


Woithe, J. (2020). Designing, measuring, and modelling the impact of the hands-on particle physics learning laboratory S'Cool LAB at CERN. CERN-THESIS-2020-089, PhD thesis Kirstein, J., & Nordmeier, V. (2007).

Multimedia representation of experiments in physics. European Journal of Physics, 28(3), S115-S126. de Barba, P. G., Kennedy, G. E., & Ainley, M. D. (2016).

The role of students' motivation and participation in predicting performance in a MOOC: Motivation and participation in MOOCs. Journal of computer assisted learning, 32, 231.

Research Base

The successful candidate is expected to inscribe as doctoral student at a CERN Member State university (see the information below). The CERN PER Team has discussed this project and agreed to base it academically at Lund University. The successful candidate will be physically based at CERN in Geneva.

Application Information

Please find all information regarding the formal application below. Please mention “PER-ILU” in your motivation letter, so that your application reaches us directly.

Please find all information on CERN’s DOCT programme at Information on CERN’s PER Team can be found at