Staff Profile: Dr John Oversby

Position / Job Title: Independent Researcher; Visiting Researcher (Brunel University)
Areas of Interest:Research groups / Centres: Science Education, Teacher Education, Visualisation, History and Philosophy in Science Teaching, Climate Change, Group Work in Initial Teacher Education
Research projects
UK Coordinator: History and philosophy for science teaching, fully funded by the EU (Feb 2008 – Jul 2010) – Euro 110 000
Principal Investigator: Changing with the Climate, 75% funded by the EU, a Comenius Multilateral Networks project (Autumn 2010 - Summer 2013), in collaboration with Rayner Mayer and Pam Lewis, University of Reading Construction Management: - Euro 517K

Research profile
Publications click here
1. Action Research in Science Education
I have been Convenor of the PALAVA teacher-researcher group for 15 years, mainly involved in Action Research.
2. Modelling in Science Education
I have worked with teachers since 1995 on representation in chemistry, mainly at secondary school level.
I have also worked in a European project on graphical representation of particles in chemistry.
My topics are:
a) Symbols and signs in chemical equations
b) Particle modelling using animation software and story boarding.
c) Acidity, especially changes in ideas throughout history
d) Issues concerned with dissolving, including explaining insolubility and partial solubility
e) Conceptual representation behind chemical mathematical functions
f) The role of diagrams in learning science and mathematics
3. History and Philosophy in Science Education
I am the UK Convenor of the European History and Philosophy in Science Teaching project, still in progress.
My specific topics in chemistry and in physics are:
a) Acidity, incorporating paradigm shifts and induction/deduction. History of ideas change in acidity.
b) Chemical modelling, incorporating philosophy of modelling, mental modelling, symbolic modelling. History of ideas change in chemical equations.
c) Heat and temperature, incorporating philosophy of the effect of measurement on the nature of science, philosophy of inquiry, and the role of engineering in measurement. History of ideas change in temperature and heat.
Enhancing subject matter knowledge for teaching chemistry and physics in secondary school teaching
I have been a school teacher and teacher educator in the field of science education since 1969. I can provide workshops and lectures to enhance teacher subject matter knowledge using innovative techniques such as:
a) Beginning with children's alternative ideas and exploring their origins.
b) Exploring children's explanations in the teacher's classroom.
c) Using teacher-created animations as a source of thinking about chemical processes
d) Using a variety of group and individual activity to make explicit initial thinking.
e) I am writing on characterising what is professional subject matter knowledge
Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) in chemical education
I have constructed a variety of web sites, based on wikispaces. I am researching various aspects of VLEs.
a) creating a VLE, purposes and structure, storing VLEs
b) types of VLEs (transmission, participatory, collaborative, and student-directed)
c) ways of managing VLE discussions
d) file variety in VLEs e.g. documents, pages, spreadsheets, pictures and diagrams.
e) using links in VLEs as a method of publishing
f) blogs, what they are and how can they be used for learning
g) institutional VLEs and off-site VLEs: issues for student protection and flexibility