Questions from Teaching of Physics

On the first day of my teaching of physics class, I asked students what questions / concerns they had about physics teaching and what they hoped to take away from this class.

Here is our list:

1. So far, I’ve been given frameworks for planning individual lessons (and maybe a sequence of lessons). How do I plan for meaningful instruction on time scales beyond a lesson? Like a whole course?

2. I’ve learned that I came out of introductory physics with much my conceptions inadequately addressed. How can I teach in ways that address students’ (mis)conceptions?

3. I know that explaining isn’t all there is too teaching, but there are many concepts in physics I feel inadequately prepared to explain, even to myself. How do I develop my repertoire of explanations of physics concepts for learners?

4. I’ve learned that I will likely teach physics at many different levels–physical science, freshman physics, honors physics, junior/senior physics, AP physics. How am I to adjust instruction and curriculum to all these different levels?

5. What determines the pace of instruction? How much time do you devote to specific topics? When is it time to move on?

6. Is it possible to teach effectively in this era of high stakes testing? Can you teach AP physics through inquiry and prepare them for the AP exam?

I’m glad I did this. Already students seem to be oriented to the class as potentially meaningful and relevant. They have a stake in shaping what we do and what issues our efforts speak to. I’ve left room in my plans to move in on their questions, but I know that we will ultimately address some of these much more than others.

I do plan on asking students to revisit these questions regularly during the semester, and also to add to and refine these questions.

Lastly, I’d love to hear people’s thoughts. Or if anyone feels passionate about one of these questions, I’d love to talk about having you talk with our class.

3 thoughts on “Questions from Teaching of Physics

Add yours

  1. I always feel like AP and other types of testing is the big gorilla in rooms like these. If we’re talking about good experiences for students, or cool ways to have students engage in things, or cool demos or whatever, it can always be brought to a standstill with those two letters: AP. Hopefully the new AP will help but it’s still frustrating to me.

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