Category: "physics education"

Should physics lab manuals be the same at any place?

Link: http://hirophysics.com/USM-labproject/project2011.html

There are a lot of textbooks and manuals. Some of them are thick and dense with good quality. Some others are easy to understand the related topic.

However, the textbook itself doesn't necessarily teach students what to understand well especially when learning physics. The teachers often divide the hard concept into small pieces for students' understanding, but the ability depends on each teacher.

On the other hand, physics laboratory textbooks are likely standardized (similar contents) at any university. If the equipment for the labs is updated, the manual tends to become useless immediately. Students are often confused with the procedure of the lab because the instruction is not elaborated so they can understand physics behind the setup. As a result, students get frustrated and have a hard time in writing up the report. These are common problems in most of introductory physics courses.

We decided to innovate in the curriculum of physics labs. In order to do this, we started observing students reactions as for each lab instruction in the manual. From the feedback, the lab manuals were modified to more effective way so students can perform and understand it by themselves.

 

Policy and education

Link: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/10/13/130542069/

What happened in DC has been controversial.  What Michelle Rhee did has to be respected in terms of her principle.  I do not have any right to say to this issue since I have not investigated anything about this entire process; however, I cannot help but think about similar situations that I have observed at universities.  Usually, a politically driven policy would encounter some of opposition even though it is theoretically correct.  Quite a few professors at universities eventually become politicians to do such a thing.  The certain policy will involve a political fight, and because of that it may not be executed later on.  The process itself can be important; however, under such process, the people who need the significant help will be sacrificed by the game they play.  Namely, most of children or students will be left behind after all...