Why US schools need to shake up the way they teach physics

by | Jul 3, 2024 | Science

America has a physics problem.Research shows that access to physics education varies based on race, gender, sexuality and disability. Physics courses are usually standard offerings in suburban high schools, but at urban and rural schools that isn’t the case.Even in places where physics is taught, the lessons rarely highlight how physics can be applied to students’ everyday lives.This approach can hamper students’ desire to learn. In my work as a physics education researcher, I’ve encountered lessons centered on the rote memorization of formulas. This method fails to encourage critical thinking, constraining students’ ability to creatively solve problems.Teachers sometimes believe that if a student can’t grasp a physics concept, it’s the student’s problem. Instructors oftentimes don’t try to present the materials in a way that could help students engage more deeply with the lessons. This adds to the challenges poorer, nonwhite students already face, which include being held to lower standards and having fewer classroom resources.Imagine if, instead, students could see how physics influences their daily lives in sports, extreme weather or baking and cooking. How might these real-world connections spark curiosity and foster a deeper understanding of physics?Making physics relevantNot adequately teaching physics has consequences.As the economy becomes more tech-centered, understanding physics is critical. Yet the number of Americans with a solid grasp of physics is dwindling.If there’s a shortage of candidates for jobs requiring a basic understanding of physics, it could hurt the ability of the U.S. to compete in the global economy, or it could compel companies to outsource certain jobs to countries with a better-educated workforce.Many students have a vague notion that they would like to pursue STEM careers; they realize that these jobs usually pay well and can be interesting and fulfilling. But they aren’t even aware that learning physics can better prepare you for a role as an aerospace engineer, software developer or environmental scientist, to name just a few.Understanding that relationship alone could boost their desire to learn the material.But there’s another way to boost motivation, which I’ve spent years studying and developing, called “culturally relevant physics education.”Physics is usually taught in ways that don’t connect with a diverse student body, leading to lower performance and engagement, especially among poor and nonwhite students. This can cause these populations to see little value in learning physics.A traditional high school physics class teaches abstract equations and focuses on topics such as projectile motion and electrical circuits. The teacher might expla …

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

[mwai_chat context=”Let’s have a discussion about this article:nnAmerica has a physics problem.Research shows that access to physics education varies based on race, gender, sexuality and disability. Physics courses are usually standard offerings in suburban high schools, but at urban and rural schools that isn’t the case.Even in places where physics is taught, the lessons rarely highlight how physics can be applied to students’ everyday lives.This approach can hamper students’ desire to learn. In my work as a physics education researcher, I’ve encountered lessons centered on the rote memorization of formulas. This method fails to encourage critical thinking, constraining students’ ability to creatively solve problems.Teachers sometimes believe that if a student can’t grasp a physics concept, it’s the student’s problem. Instructors oftentimes don’t try to present the materials in a way that could help students engage more deeply with the lessons. This adds to the challenges poorer, nonwhite students already face, which include being held to lower standards and having fewer classroom resources.Imagine if, instead, students could see how physics influences their daily lives in sports, extreme weather or baking and cooking. How might these real-world connections spark curiosity and foster a deeper understanding of physics?Making physics relevantNot adequately teaching physics has consequences.As the economy becomes more tech-centered, understanding physics is critical. Yet the number of Americans with a solid grasp of physics is dwindling.If there’s a shortage of candidates for jobs requiring a basic understanding of physics, it could hurt the ability of the U.S. to compete in the global economy, or it could compel companies to outsource certain jobs to countries with a better-educated workforce.Many students have a vague notion that they would like to pursue STEM careers; they realize that these jobs usually pay well and can be interesting and fulfilling. But they aren’t even aware that learning physics can better prepare you for a role as an aerospace engineer, software developer or environmental scientist, to name just a few.Understanding that relationship alone could boost their desire to learn the material.But there’s another way to boost motivation, which I’ve spent years studying and developing, called “culturally relevant physics education.”Physics is usually taught in ways that don’t connect with a diverse student body, leading to lower performance and engagement, especially among poor and nonwhite students. This can cause these populations to see little value in learning physics.A traditional high school physics class teaches abstract equations and focuses on topics such as projectile motion and electrical circuits. The teacher might expla …nnDiscussion:nn” ai_name=”RocketNews AI: ” start_sentence=”Can I tell you more about this article?” text_input_placeholder=”Type ‘Yes'”]
Share This