Κυριακή, 9 Νοεμβρίου 2008

Lillian McDermott: Virtual laboratory experiments are not an adequate substitute for "hands - on" experience.

Η ένωση φυσικών των ΗΠΑ (American Association of Physics Teacher), το 2006,
« Γιορτάζοντας τα 75 χρόνια διάκρισης στην ενίσχυση της κατανόησης και της αναγνώρισης της Φυσικής μέσω της διδασκαλίας» ( Celebrating 75 Years of Excellence in Enhancing the Understanding and Appreciation of Physics Through Teaching) απευθύνθηκε σε 75 γνωστούς φυσικούς ερευνητές, δασκάλους φυσικής, συγγραφείς οι οποίοι εξέθεσαν τις απόψεις τους, σε 4 ερωτήσεις, κοινές για όλους
(για τις αλλαγές με τη μεγαλύτερη απήχηση στη Φυσική τα τελευταία 75 χρόνια, για τις αλλαγές στη Φυσική και στη διδασκαλία της φυσικής τα επόμενα 25 χρόνια, για τις αναμνήσεις τους, αν είναι αισιόδοξοι για το μέλλον της Φυσικής, και τέλος για το αγαπημένο τους χρώμα)
Οι 75 φυσικοί επελέγησαν μετά από ψηφοφορία μεταξύ των μελών της Ένωσης στην ιστοσελίδα της Ένωσης. Οι απόψεις τους δημοσιεύτηκαν σε ένα μικρό βιβλιαράκι.

H κ. Lillian C. McDermott
(Professor, Director of the Physics Education Group, University of Washington, Seattle) μας λέει:

Changes with the greatest impact in the past 75 years.
Perhaps the most important positive change in physics education has been a movement away from teaching physics as information to be memorized, experimental results to be verified, and problems to be solved with formulas.
The present trend toward involving students more actively in process of science began in the 1950s with the NSF –funded K-12 curriculum development projects. This inquiry – oriented approach to instruction gradually extended to undergraduate education.
During the past 25 years, research in physics education conducted among university students has helped motivate and guide the development of instructional materials and strategies that are more effective than lectures in promoting active learning by students.
Although computers add a new and helpful dimension to physics instruction, they are too frequently used as a cheap substitute for teachers who are in a better position to respond to specific difficulties encountered by their students.
Because of convenience, multiple – choice tests and homework assignments that are computer – graded are overused and the pedagogical advance to the students of carefully written problems and homework solutions is lost.
Replacing instruction in the laboratory with computers is also undesirable.
Virtual laboratory experiments are not an adequate substitute for “hands – on” experience.
Students benefit from confronting the problems of real experimental measurements, as opposed to idealized examples.

Changes in physics and physics education in the next 25 years
I would like to see an increase in the role of physics education research. It seems to me that treating teaching as a science as well as an art is the most efficient way to achieve cumulative improvement in the effectiveness of instruction.
It is important to recognize where students are intellectually at the beginning of instruction, to identify persistent conceptual and reasoning difficulties, to determine how to address these, and to asses the results.
To build on the work of others, as is the traditional in physics, requires the sharing of results at professional meetings that physicists attend and publication in journals that physicists read.
I also think that there needs to be a much greater emphasis on the preparation of K-12 teachers of physics and physical science.
Physics departments should accept more responsibility for this task and do it well.
In addition to the inappropriate use of technology mentioned above, I am concerned about the trend toward interdisciplinary introductory courses.
It seems to me that in vertically structured subjects, such as physics, one has to build the concepts and mathematics involved step – by – step.
If students lack a firm foundation in physics, it very difficult to try to acquire the necessary background for advanced study at a later stage.
It seems better to postpone interdisciplinary courses in the sciences until students have a firm foundation in one more disciplines.

Memories
I am sure that I can think of a “best” memory because my memories are mostly good. I have been fortunate to be able to work in areas (physics education research and K-20 teacher preparation) that I find interesting and challenging. I have had a productive working environment. Among my “worst” memories are the occasions on which I have had to adjust to the aggressive and arrogant attitudes that are sometimes present in the physics community.

Are you hopeful about the future of physics?
I feel hopeful because I am basically optimistic. I like what I do and other physicists whom I know also like what they do. However, I worry about the apparent failure of much of the public to understand the nature of science, the download trend in finding for science, the downward trend in finding for science, and the need that I perceive for more graduate students with a U.S. undergraduate education.
Another important concern is the common failure to recognize that preparing good teachers is a lengthy process. Many current efforts seem to the directed toward a “quick fix”.
There is a need for special courses for teachers within physics departments that emphasize the development of a sound understanding in both the content and process of physics.

Favorite color
I like most colors, depending the circumstances. Colors that I like to look at and colors that I like to wear are not necessarily the same.

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