Losing students in the terrain of physics




Horncastle, Jeffrey

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Declining enrollment in secondary and post secondary science is a problem that many countries around the world are facing. Research has been done to explore this problem in the United States (Gunstone, McKittrick & Mulhall, 1999), Canada (Amgen Canada, 2013), New Zealand (Smaill & Coghill, 2011), China (Zhang & Ding, 2013) and the United Kingdom (Williams, Stanisstreet, Spall, Boyes & Dickson, 2003). From the review of the literature done in this area, I have identified three key themes to be affecting declining enrollment: (i) a lack of interest and engagement in the subject; (ii) myths that science is difficult, boring and irrelevant in our lives (Gunstone, McKittrick, & Mulhall, 1999); and (iii) that the targeted demographic of science students needs to be broadened to be more inclusive (Slawinski Blessing, Miller & Schwartz, 2006). Declining enrollment in physics is also being seen in the high school that I teach at, Parkland Secondary, in Saanich, British Columbia. In response to this decline, I have created an Introduction to Electronics course that attempts to respond to these three themes by providing hands-on inquiry-based experiences. It is my intention that by providing students with experiences that engage them with theories and concepts of physics without the difficult mathematics, student enrollment in physics will increase. It is also my hope that this course will increase student interest in physic by increasing understanding of the relevancy of science in the student’s daily lives.



Decline, Enrollment, science, physics, inquiry, electronics, curricullum