Teaching Strategies for Effective Learning in Form 4 Physics

by Robert Wilson Blogger

Malaysia’s national education policies have stressed the importance of science and mathematics since 1991, when then-prime minister Dr Mahathir introduced ‘Vision 2020’. Malaysia’s ability to achieve the status of a developed country by 2020 depended on the ability of its citizens to keep abreast of the latest developments in research, scientific discoveries, and technological applications.

Despite significant government investment in training science and mathematics teachers and equipping schools scientific laboratories and apparatus, the enrolment of Malaysian students in the pure sciences stream in Form 4 and 5 have stagnated in recent years. Malaysia’s below-average rankings in the International Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in previous years have also been a source of political contention.

There are undoubtedly various factors for these developments; this article aims to address the issue of suboptimal teaching strategies for Form 4 Physics – a subject with an abstract and technical nature that poses a major challenge to many students.

Here are a few strategies to help students to understand and apply the various scientific concepts within the Form 4 Physics syllabus (e.g. forces and motion, pressure, heat, light, etc.):

  1. A Hands-On Approach

Having students conduct scientific experiments in the laboratory can be time-consuming and logistically demanding. Teachers have to ensure that students are paired up, properly instructed, and equipped with the relevant scientific apparatus. It is far easier for the teacher to either (1) conduct the lesson on a purely theoretical basis or (2) simply conduct the experiment in front of the entire class.

There is no substitute from having students conducting the experiments themselves, as opposed to merely watching a teacher demonstrate it. The 2007 TIMSS report noted that Malaysian students were not regularly engaged when it came to conducting experiments. More often than not, they were passive recipients of knowledge instead of active learners.

Education scholars have argued that active learning allows students to become “participants in activities that encompass analysis, synthesis and evaluation besides developing skills, values and attitudes”. Instead of merely memorising scientific formulas and using them to solve examination questions, Malaysian students should be encouraged to acquire and apply heir scientific knowledge and scientific attitude when presented with new and unfamiliar intellectual challenges.

2. Make lessons as interesting as possible

Teachers rightfully differentiate themselves from entertainers, but in today’s media-saturated environment they inevitably find themselves competing for their students’ attentions. Physics can often seem like a dull, dry and dusty affair – it would not hurt for teachers to liven up their lessons by drawing examples from everyday life or popular culture to maintain their attention spans. Using diagrams, videos, animation sequences, and photographs can all be incorporated to provide some variety to the traditional chalkboard or whiteboard.

For (an ambitious) example, Canadian physics teacher Shawn Young invented Classcraft – a role playing game where students are encouraged to strive for academic achievements to earn experience points and level up (instead of the traditional grades on their report cards).

3.Encourage peer-to-peer learning

Not every student engages well with the lecture-student format. Introducing opportunities for peer-to-peer teaching and learning in your classroom can be a good way to motivate students to learn from each other and collaborate on tasks and challenges that require a few heads to work together. This allows stronger students to improve their communication skills when they impart their knowledge to their peers while benefiting weaker students who may have become disenchanted with the formal education system.

Encouraging students to think scientifically should not be limited to the classroom, to engagements between students and teachers, or to the short term objective of adding another ‘A’ to their report cards. If you are successful, your students will incorporate it into their conversations and interactions with each other, as well as into their respective worldviews  – setting them up to be lifelong learners and scientific thinkers.

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About Robert Wilson Junior   Blogger

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Joined APSense since, December 18th, 2017, From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Created on Jan 4th 2018 04:27. Viewed 593 times.


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