Physics education refers to the methods currently used to teach physics. Physics Education Research refers to an area of pedagogical research that seeks to improve those methods. Historically, physics has been taught at the high school and college level primarily by the lecture method together with laboratory exercises aimed at verifying concepts taught in the lectures. These concepts are better understood when lectures are accompanied with demonstration, hand-on experiments, and questions that require students to ponder what will happen in an experiment and why. Students who participate in active learning for example with hands-on experiments learn through self-discovery. By trial and error they learn to change their preconceptions about phenomena in physics and discover the underlying concepts.
Aristotle wrote what is considered now as the first textbook of physics. Aristotle's ideas were taught unchanged until the Late Middle Ages, when scientists started making discoveries that didn't fit them. For example, Copernicus' discovery contradicted Aristotle's idea of an Earth-centric universe. Aristotle's ideas about motion weren't displaced until the end of the 17th century, when Newton published his ideas.
Today's physics students keep thinking of physics concepts in Aristotelian terms, despite being taught only Newtonian concepts.
Compare to the other syllabus include GCSE, GCE etc which learn wider and boarder of different topics, the Hong Kong syllabus is learning more deeply and more challenges with calculations. Topics are narrow down to a smaller amount compared to the A-level due to the insufficient teaching hours at secondary schools in Hong Kong, which include temperature, heat, internal energy, change of state, gases, position, motion, force, projectile motion, work, energy, power, momentum, uniform circular motion, gravitation, wave, light, sound, electrostatics, circuits, electromagnetism, radiation, radioactivity, atomic model, nuclear energy, universe, astronomy, stars, Rutherford model, photoelectric effect, Bohr model, particles, nanoscopic scale, building, transportation, renewable energy sources, eye, ear, non-ionizing radiation and ionizing radiation etc.
Some schools only allow students choose physics as elective subject since Form 4, some schools provide physics compulsory curriculum in Form 3 and then allow students to choose in Form 4, and some other schools allow students choose physics as elective subject since Form 3. Also, most schools use English language as the medium of instruction for physics, whereas a few of the schools use Chinese language as the medium of instruction for physics.
Other than having lectures in classrooms or laboratories, schools in Hong Kong organise outside-school activities to motivate students learning Physics.
Pure Physics major programmes are provided in the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK),Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and University of Hong Kong (HKU). Topics include engineering physics, mechanics, thermodynamics, fluids, wave, optics, modern physics, laboratory, heat, electromagnetism, quantitative methods, computational physics, astronomy, astrophysics, classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, quantum information, statistical physics, theoretical physics, computer simulation, soft matter, practical electronics, contemporary physics, instrumentation, statistical mechanics, solid state physics, meteorology, nanoscience, optical physics, theory of relativity and particle physics etc.
There are different approaches of delivering physics lectures in different universities in Hong Kong. In CUHK, most relevant knowledge including quantitative methods and computer simulation are learnt in the Department of Physics, which may let the students learn deeper into the concept that applied to the physics problems, whereas in HKUST, quantitative methods and computer simulation are learnt by students in the courses delivered by Department of Mathematics and Department of Computer Science respectively which allow the students to learn boarder with knowledge of different aspects.
There are also Enrichment Stream in Theoretical Physics offered by CUHK and International Research Enrichment Track offered by HKUST. In that stream, additional topics include astrophysics, particle physics, computational physics, and quantum physics. The practices of solving theoretical systems and the discussions of physical insight are very in-depth, which promote the graduates into a high level of the understanding of physics. However, the working opportunity for graduates with theoretical background in Hong Kong is too narrow. Most graduates pursue further studies overseas or become teachers.
Moreover, Applied Physics major programmes are offered only in most other universities in Hong Kong.
Teaching strategies are the various techniques used by the teachers to facilitate the students with different learning styles. The different teaching strategies help teachers to develop critical thinking among students and effectively engaging them in the classroom. The selection of teaching strategies depends on the concept to be taught and also on the interest of the students.
Methods/Approaches for teaching physics
Physics education research is a sub-division within physics and is the study of how physics is taught and how students learn physics.
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