High school students' perceptions of physics

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Checkley, Doug
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 2010
There are far fewer high school students enrolled in physics than in chemistry or biology courses within the province of Alberta (Alberta Education, 2007). Students are also completing the highest level math course in larger numbers than those taking physics. It appears that a fear of physics exists within students in our province; this fear seems to be related to a level of difficulty the students associate with physics. Many students either opt to not take physics or enter the course with the expectation of failure. In this study I explored the impact of physics’ reputation upon a group of students who chose not to take physics. In addition, I attempted to determine whether the perception of the difficulty of high school physics is accurate. This was done by investigating the perceptions of several students who took physics. I surveyed students from one high school in a small urban school district using group interviews. The students were in grades 10 to 12 and divided into groups of Science 10, Physics 20 and Physics 30 students. The students were interviewed to gain a deeper understanding of what perceptions they have about physics and why they may have them, hoping to identify factors that affect their academic decision to take or not take physics classes. For the students interviewed, I found that the biggest influence on their decisions to take or not take physics was related to their future aspirations. The students were also heavily influenced by their perceptions of physics. The students who took physics claimed that physics was not as difficult as they had believed it to be and they reported that it was interesting, enjoyable and relevant. Those students who had chosen to not take physics perceived it would be difficult, irrelevant and boring. Therefore, a major difference of perception exists between the students who took physics and those that did not.
viii, 221 leaves ; 29 cm
Physics -- Study and teaching (Secondary) -- Alberta , Physics -- Public opinion , Attitude (Psychology) , Dissertations, Academic