Miranda House, University of Delhi, Delhi 110 007, India
Chair, International Commission on Physics Education, Commission 14 of IUPAP
Monday, September 14, 2009
Transforming Classrooms, Teaching & Student Learning at the Tertiary Level
In most countries, there is growing concern about dwindling interest in physics among young students, lack of inclusiveness and flight of talent to other disciplines. There is also an increasing global understanding of the strategic importance of physics as an instrument for sustainable social progress, economic growth and national development; and consequently, the need to revitalize physics education in culturally relevant ways for diverse student populations. However, altering educational systems is a complex task.
The presentation will touch upon seminal physics education research on students learning. This research is impacting global praxis and motivating changes in content, context, and instruments. It focuses on ways of teaching-learning of physics with special emphasis on active learning environments that integrate the use of a variety of resources to create experiences that are both, hands-on and minds-on.
Within this framework, as a first example, I will relate initiatives in bringing about innovative changes in a large, traditional university system, such as the University of Delhi in India. The model for change involves a triad that entails indigenous development of Physware using low-cost and appropriate technologies; dissemination and assimilation of the new paradigm. The transfer of pedagogic innovations into the formal classroom is facilitated by professional development programs that aim to provide experiential learning of research-based innovative teaching practices; catalyze the process of reflection through classroom research; and establish a collaborative network of teachers empowered to usher radical transformation.
As a second example, on a broader canvas, I will relate the experience of organizing PHYSWARE at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, in February 2009. This collaborative workshop promoted hands-on physics education at the undergraduate level throughout the developing world. The success of this workshop has led us to envision long term plans for creating a PHYSWARE series of “educate the educator” workshops and establishing a community of practice to support those in the developing world, rooted in international cooperation.