It was a wonderful week in Bad Honnef, Germany! Just at the beginning of the 11th ESERA summer school, at July 22th, the weather turned to be sunny, hot and bright. 49 students from 19 countries – curious and equipped with posters and presentations - met for a whole week at the beautiful Physikzentrum Bad Honnef (the conference center of the German Physical Society) in order to present and discuss in very detail their PhD projects in the field of science education research. The students have been supported and advised by 18 researchers from 10 countries. Serving the students as staff members, the researchers offered a special coaching, but also lectures and workshops.


What makes the coaching special?

It is now tradition that the 49 ESERA summer school students are divided into 7 internationally composed sub-groups, each coached by two experienced researchers. Within 7 sessions each of the students presents his or her thesis. The whole group offers support, taking part in a scientific discussion and giving feedback. Doing so, the PhD students are introduced into an international and intercultural dialogue on scientific issues, which could be deepened throughout the whole week.

In addition to the group work, the students displayed poster presentations of their studies at the coffee break area. Here, everybody was invited to approach the scientific projects, read and discuss about it, exchange further ideas, and start networking.


  • Lectures and workshops added new perspectives. They have been offered by:
  • Michael Schallies, Heidelberg, Germany: Overview: Science Education Research and its Importance
  • Mariona Espinet, Barcelona, Spain: The Analysis of Interactions in Complex Science Learning Environments: The Contributions of Conversational Analysis, Discourse Analysis and Critical Discourse Analysis
  • Nikos Papadouris, Nicosia, Cyprus: Socio-Scientific Issues as a Context for Decision Making Research: Investigations of Reasoning and Conceptual Aspects
  • Knut Neumann, Kiel, Germany: Core Concepts and Learning Progressions – How they can Foster Understanding of Science 

A summer school is nothing without workshops on scientific issues. Therefore, the students were to choose 4 out of 5 offers:

  • Workshop 1: Liliane Dionne, Canada: Data Analysis with the Grounded Theory Method
  • Workshop 2: Justin Dillon, United Kingdom: Writing for Publication 
  • Workshop 3: Robert Evans, Denmark  &  Alexander Kauertz, Germany: Strategies for Making Sense of Data
  • Workshop 4: Liliane Dionne, Canada: The Importance of Scientific Criteria in Qualitative Research
  • Workshop 5: Costas Constantinou, Simoni Angelides, Cyprus: The Use of Web-Based Media in Engaging Researchers in a Participative Community of Learning and Professional Development

How about the social part of summer school life?

Due to the great conditions at the Physikzentrum, everybody could recover from a highly concentrated working atmosphere at the location itself. The week started with a welcome party at the first evening in the garden.  A German barbeque on Tuesday and a social dinner with surprises on the last evening have been special events. Everybody enjoyed the excellent German cuisine. It figured out that two guitars and a piano have been the perfect tools for unforgettable music nights in the garden of the Physikzentrum.

>>> If you participated in the ESERA Summer School 2012, click here for the full set of Social Events photos

Wednesday afternoon was dedicated to the traditional ESERA summer school excursion. The whole group went by a boat on the river Rhine to Bonn – the former capital of Western Germany. Here, at temperatures above 33 °C we enjoyed a guided tour and some cold drinks afterwards.


The evaluation at the end attested the organizers and participants a very interesting, informative, communicative, intercultural, networking, healthy, exciting, constructive, singing and friendly ESERA summer school 2012. The traditional creative group presentations at the closing session and a poem written, videotaped and sent in to us after the summer school underline the positive feedback. We are grateful and happy.

Read the Poem written by Muireann Sheehan for the Closing Ceremony and view the videotape

Manuela Welzel-Breuer and Maria Breuer

Acknowledgements and Thanks!

The 2012 ESERA summer school was generously supported by Klaus Tschira Stiftung gGmbH, Heidelberg. Due to this support, the participation fees have been at a reasonable level. Thank you!

The 2012 ESERA summer school was hosted at the Physikzentrum Bad Honnef. Due to a cosy and supporting atmosphere, excellent service, great conference settings and friendly equipped guest rooms, the participants felt warmly welcomed and hosted. Thank you!The 2012 ESERA summer school was organized by members of the STS-Institute of the University of Education Heidelberg. Manuela Welzel-Breuer, Maria Breuer, Michael Schallies, and Matthias Laukenmann did their best to offer an unforgettable week for all participants. The University of Education Heidelberg supported the 2012 ESERA summer school with technical equipment. Thank you!