When sociologists design physics courses

Filling the pail

A couple of years ago, I was attending the Science Teachers Association of Victoria physics conference where there was a discussion of the new VCE physics course that was about to be introduced. This new course – which moves into Year 12 this January – was explicitly designed to force teachers to do more inquiry-based learning. One of the School Assessed Coursework tasks that teachers are required to set has been specified down to the tiniest detail to ensure that students have to design and complete their own experiment.

This idea is obviously flawed. Year 12 students are not PhD students and gain little from designing experiments – they don’t have the appropriate expertise. As Paul Kirschner would explain- it confuses the practice of professional scientists with the best way to learn science.

At the conference, there was then a speculative discussion of where future revisions to the physics…

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