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On Teaching High School Physics Effectively

On Teaching High School Physics Effectively

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On Teaching High School Physics Effectively

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  1. On Teaching High School Physics Effectively M. Victoria Carpio-Bernido and Christopher C. Bernido Research Center for Theoretical Physics Central Visayan Institute Foundation (CVIF) Jagna, Bohol 6308 Philippines Annual Meeting of the Physics Society of the Republic of China 28 January 2008 National Chia-Tung University Hsin-Chu, Taiwan

  2. OUTLINE • Motivation • Overarching Goal: Creativity • Choice of Performance Indicators • Choice of General and Specific Strategies • Pedagogical maxims • Insights from neuroscience • Developing a Strong Learning Ethos • learning program and environment • curriculum development

  3. There is a global competition in the training and recruitment of the best minds in the world. training discipline stamina Creative minds Advances in Science and technology Better products, services, health

  4. Overarching goal:CREATIVITY To develop our young people up to the apex of an hierarchy of learning in physics.

  5. Quantitative-Mathematical (QM) (Explanatory) Qualitative – Conceptual/Verbal (Explanatory) Visual – kinesthetic (Exploratory) Levels of Learning in Physics QM Synthesis

  6. Quantitative-mathematical explanatory level • “…a deeper understanding of the power and beauty of this theory [quantum theory of the hydrogen atom] is not possible without a full mathematical treatment.” – D. Halliday and R. Resnick, Fundamentals of Physics (Wiley & Sons, New York, 1981) p. 818.

  7. Quantitative-Mathematical (QM) (Explanatory) Qualitative – Conceptual/Verbal (Explanatory) Visual – kinesthetic (Exploratory) Levels of Learning in Physics QM Synthesis

  8. Synthetical level example:The Circle Simple harmonic motion Venn Diagrams Wave functions Polygon of infinite sides Nontrivial topology Circular functions: Coordinates of points on the unit circle Circumference: a linear function Area: a quadratic function

  9. The Pendulum • Acceleration due to gravity • Force diagrams • Conservation of energy • Simple harmonic oscillator • Circular functions • Waves

  10. Example: Historical Trends in Physics Celestial Gravity Newton (1684) Einstein (1915) Terrestrial Gravity Superstrings? Electricity Maxwell (1865) Salam/Weinberg (1967) Magnetism Fermi (1964) Weak Force Standard Model Yukawa (1935) Strong Force

  11. How do we measure success? • National competency-based standardized exams • College entrance exams • The depth of learning manifested by students in college and professional life • International measures (TIMSS, PISA, Nobel, etc.)

  12. Choice of Strategies Empirically based principles serve as a compass for the judicious choice of strategies.

  13. Pedagogical Maxims • Learning by doing. For science and math, students need to think with their own minds and work with their own hands. • Sound fundamentals. Virtuoso levels are reached only by being well-grounded in the fundamentals.

  14. Mastery not vanity. Simple problems completely and clearly solved have greater educational value than advanced problems sloppily analyzed with forced final answers. • Adaptability.An educational program must be adaptive because no two learning situations are ever completely alike.

  15. The Learning Mind Cognitive Psychology Pedagogy Neuroscience Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics

  16. knowledge creation, concept formation and behavior gross anatomy and physiology 10-2 m cellular 10-6 m sub-cellular genetic 10-9 m molecular 10-15 m sub-molecular

  17. Cellular basis of learning and memory • 1011 neurons • 1014 synapses • Each neuron connected with about 10,000 other neurons • Integrate-and-fire model Ion channels Higher K+ Lower Na+ U = – 70mV ~ 53 mV

  18. Unlike computer bits which are either “on” or “off”, a neuron’s activation level is a continuous variable, allowing tremendous possibilities in differential variations and spectra of mental states • Mirror neurons (Rizzolatti,Gallese, Fogassi, 1996)

  19. The task-oriented brain • Brain activation of different structural parts to accomplish a task • Parts can perform multiple functions, and are ready to take over damaged or dysfunctional parts. • Learning is achieved either through the growth of new synapses, or the strengthening or weakening of existing ones. [See e.g., R. J. Sternberg, Cognitive Psychology; S. Gilman and S. W. Newman, Manter and Gatz’s Essentials of Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology; OECD 2002]

  20. The task-oriented brain • uses all resources at hand to achieve an objective • Synthesis of biochemicals (neuropeptides) • Mutation • Adaptation

  21. The adolescent brain • Brain imaging shows that both brain volume and myelination continue to grow throughout adolescence and during the young adulthood period. (OECD, 2002) • Myelinated axons have greater conduction velocity of signals.

  22. The brain and mathematical skills “Triple Code Model” • Visual digit “3”: fusiform gyrus • Hearing “3”: perisylvian area • Understanding that 3 > 1 : interparietal lobes [OECD 2002]

  23. Brain imaging by positron emission tomography (PET)

  24. Setting up a learning program and developing a learning ethos The CVIF Dynamic Learning Program (DLP) is a synthesis of classical and modern pedagogical theories adapted to foster a high level of learning, creativity, and productivity.

  25. Traditional Lecture Discussion (70-80%) Student Activity (70-80%) Student Activity Lecture Discussion CVIF Program

  26. Emphasize the development of a good learning ethos over content coverage.

  27. The CVIF DLP and all co- and extra-curricular activities are geared towards maximizing: • Motivation • Focus • Confidence and Composure • Self-Discipline • Stamina

  28. The CVIF Dynamic Learning Program • Parallel Learning Groups (Modified Jigsaw Strategy) • Activity-based Multi-domain Learning • In-school Comprehensive Student Portfolio (instead of notebooks) • Teachers Comprehensive Portfolio (instead of Lesson Plans) • Strategic Study/Rest Periods • Integrated Cultural Formation

  29. Class Schedule (Academic Day ) SY 2006-2007 [BEC 2004]

  30. MOTIVATIONClear Learning Targets for a task-oriented brain • Written on the daily Activity Sheet • Simple • Specific • Attainable

  31. FOCUS: Enhanced by an Activity-based Multi-domain Learning • Learning by doing • Discovery approach • Problem-solving • Active, not passive, learning • In-school activity policy

  32. Diminishing focusing time Fostering the Learning Mood

  33. Expanding absorption time “On-task” absorption time

  34. Developed by the daily routine of learning activities. At the end of the school year each student has written 150-200 pages of concept notes, drills, exercises, illustrations, etc, for physics. STAMINA

  35. Instead of notebooks,the Comprehensive Student Portfolio • Compilation of all activities, exams, quizzes, concept notes • Color-coded for subject areas • Cumulative scholarship (typical of scientists’ works) • In-school Portfolio Policy

  36. Enhancing creativity and originality through strategic study and rest periods • PEHM Days • No-homework policy

  37. How do we measure success? • National competency-based standardized exams • College entrance exams • The depth of learning manifested by students in college and professional life • International measures (TIMSS, PISA, Nobel, etc.)

  38. Example: University of the Philippines College Admission Test Number of Passers 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 ‘98 ‘99 ‘00 ‘01 ‘02 ‘03 ‘04 ‘05 ‘06 ‘07 ‘08 Year

  39. Example: Center for Educational Measurement Physics Exam January 2006 *Percentage of students who acquired a specific competency NORM Group: refers to, for example 696 examinees, in the norm group. ALL Schls: refers to CEM’s total volume of examinees for SY 2004-2005. BEST Schl: refers to the HIGHEST-PERFORMING school (SY 2004-2005).

  40. Improved Performance in Department of Education National Exam (January 2007) 19.81 % of the CVIF seniors belong to the top 10 % nationwide ( or 21 students out of 106 seniors got a percentile rank of 90 and above.)

  41. Lectures/discussion only ¼ of the class time, the rest being allotted for other activities; • No homework throughout their 4 years in high school; • Portfolios and all activities cannot be brought home during the school year.

  42. Factors to consider: • ~ 90% of incoming freshmen come from rural public elementary schools. • CVIF Tuition and miscellaneous fees total around P 8,000 (US$200) per student per year. • Marked lack of home educational support; >95% have no tutors.

  43. Designing a Physics Curriculum for the Learning as One Nation Project • Distill common topics from local and international curricula, and propose essentials in high school physics considering our targets and constraints. • Proposed curriculum is scheduled for pilot implementation for school year 2008 – 2009, under the Learning as One Nation project, funded by the Fund for Assistance to Private Education of the Philippine Department of Education.

  44. Learning as One Nation Team of National Experts Synchronized science and math classes

  45. Constraints:The curriculum should • introduce essential physics principles in the light of new developments in science and technology • be a springboard for addressing present and future major scientific research concerns

  46. Constraints:The curriculum should • prepare high school students to do well in local and international aptitude exams, college entrance exams, and college course work • respond to the demands of global competitiveness in content mastery, mathematical rigor and stamina