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“Physics First” Debate to Data. Rachel Zabierek The Bishop’s School La Jolla, CA. Physics First: Debate to Data. Late 1990s – Leon Lederman and Project ARISE Invert traditional Bio- Chem -Phys science course sequence as part of an effort to “revolutionize”

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physics first debate to data

“Physics First” Debate to Data

Rachel Zabierek

The Bishop’s School La Jolla, CA

physics first debate to data1
Physics First: Debate to Data
  • Late 1990s – Leon Lederman
  • and Project ARISE
  • Invert traditional
  • Bio-Chem-Phys science
  • course sequence as part of
  • an effort to “revolutionize”
  • American science education

Image Source: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1988/

physics first debate to data2
Physics First: Debate to Data
  • Anticipated outcomes of Phys-Chem-Bio sequence
    • Students experience greater coherency and integration of science concepts
    • Provide concurrent context for algebra usage (in Physics course)
    • Allow for more authentic inquiry-based approach in all science courses
    • Should encourage schools/districts to create a seamless K-12 science education process
    • Provide enhanced support for girls, minorities, economically disadvantaged students (?)
physics first debate to data3
Physics First: Debate to Data
  • Other “pro” arguments
    • More logical progression, follows “grain-size” hierarchy of science
    • Increased enrollment in physics courses
  • “Con” arguments
    • Lack of necessary mathematical skills
    • Freshmen?!?
    • Dearth of qualified physics teachers
    • Difficulty of conversion process
    • Textbooks
physics first debate to data4
Physics First: Debate to Data
  • Data?
    • Mostly qualitative
    • Some causal-comparative or correlational, but limited in scope
    • Hot topics:
      • Mathematical rigor
      • Can freshmen really “learn Physics”?
      • Teacher preparedness
      • Curriculum content/textbooks
      • Pedagogy
      • Science course enrollment
      • College performance
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Physics First: Debate to Data
  • Goodman, R. & Etkina, E. (2008). Squaring the circle: A mathematically rigorous Physics First. Physics Teacher, 46(4), 222-227.
    • Algebra-based Physics course successfully prepare students for future science courses?
      • 85-90% of “physics topics” teachable with algebra
      • 9th grade course – AP Physics B mechanics and E&M
      • 10th grade course – remaining AP Physics B topics
      • By 2006, students taking AP science courses and passing tests at 4.5x the NJ state average
      • Students graduating with average of 4.2 science courses
      • Average math SAT scores within 0.1σ of state average
physics first debate to data6
Physics First: Debate to Data
  • Burgess, T. & Goff, K. (2011). Physics First Impact on Advanced Placement Biology and Science Enrollment. Unpublished.
    • Juniors (P/C/B), Seniors (IS/Bio/Chem) in AP Biology course
    • Administered multiple choice portion of 2002 AP Biology exam
    • No difference in performance of cohorts (juniors

scored slightly higher, but not statistically significant)

physics first debate to data7
Physics First: Debate to Data
  • Sadler, P. & Tai, R. (2007). The Two High-School Pillars Supporting College Science. Science, 317, 457-458.
    • Effects of high school science and math on performance in intro-level college science courses
    • n=8500
    • “Out-of-discipline” course performance had no effect (ex. high school physics performance had no effect on college intro bio performance)
    • Study in same subject increased performance
    • Number/level of math courses increased performance
physics first debate to data8
Physics First: Debate to Data
  • WARNING!! Shameless plug…
    • Master’s thesis
    • Science perceptions and attitudes of PCB vs. BCP students
    • Survey of junior/senior students who have just completed sequence
    • TOSRA and other questions
    • Vertical integration? Scientifically literate? Coordination with math?
    • Teacher/administrator survey
physics first debate to data9
Physics First: Debate to Data
  • In Conclusion…
    • Lack of quantitative data to measure “effectiveness” in pedagogical approach, success in future science courses
    • Difficulty in defining “Physics First” poses problems, lack of standardization
    • What exactly are we hoping to see? Greater scientific literacy? How to measure?
physics first debate to data10
Physics First: Debate to Data

Thanks for Listening!

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