Academic journal article International Education Studies

An Evaluation of Changes to the Turkish High School Physics Curriculum

Academic journal article International Education Studies

An Evaluation of Changes to the Turkish High School Physics Curriculum

Article excerpt

Abstract

A New Turkish Physics Curriculum has been constructed between the years 2006-2009. It is to the gaining of new perspectives. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to reflect on the nature of the New Turkish Physics Curriculum (NTPC). To this end, the authors focus on the five themes of the NTPC using a document analysis method: basic reasons and needs of the NTPC, fundamental approaches of the NTPC, learning areas of the NTPC, characteristics of teaching activities in terms of the NTPC, needs of the NTPC. This paper highlights thus focusses on the fundamentals of the NTPC and considerations of its easy adaptation into practice.

Keywords: curriculum development, physics education, New Turkish Physics Curriculum (NTPC)

1. Introducation

Physics through its experimental nature enables ways of thinking about real world phenomena and thus is in continual development. Especially in the last century, the content of physics has expanded both in microscopic and macroscopic perspectives by continuing to capture classic meanings of concepts, as seen in general and special relativity or quantum mechanics theories. Moreover, the production of knowledge nowadays is grounded on these theories and the produced knowledge greatly affects our social life (Pietrocola, 2005). It is clear that since reflections of physics occur in our social life and the growing importance of physics is significantly different from past decades, persons need to understand a degree of specialized physics knowledge to function in today's world. Also, since past practices of separating physics teaching activities from daily life and the profound relationship between physics and mathematics today they are a cause of teaching-learning problems (Bernhard, 2000). Physics is perceived as a difficult discipline to understand. Likewise, even though most of the concepts of physics are used in daily life, physics courses are identified by students as being filled with difficult, boring and useless information (Ahlgren & Walberg, 1973; Yaman et al., 2004). It is clear that this kind of negative perception creates significant and permanent disabilities for learning and thus, updating or reconstructing the physics curriculum is inevitable. On the other hand, changes to the understanding of conceptual learning (answers to how meaningful and effective learning occurs) are also an important reason for curriculum changes. In this manner, any physics curriculum is expected to reflect current trends and provide a strategic development. Researchers such as Brockington et al. (2008), Pietrocola (2005) and research projects such as PSSC, ACS, BSCS, NSES, AAAS-Project 2061, SLIP and ROSE summarize efforts by some countries to fill the gap emanating from these advances.

Once several countries recognized the importance of updating or reconstructing their physics curriculum in terms of worldwide trends and development in technical and scientific areas, evaluation studies related to the effectiveness of the revision, the suitability of the objectives, the appropriateness of the principles on new curricula are based or obstacles faced in their applications have taken place. Examples are, those by Hu (2007), Fernandez (2007), Mumba et al. (2007) and Mirzoyan and Mirzoyan (2008). Hu (2007) concentrated on opportunities and challenges behind the new Chinese physics curriculum and simultaneous disclosed that reasons for changing the curriculum were closely related with future trends and challenges caused from practices of empirical research results. In this regard, the research identified the fundamental ideas within the curricula as (I) enhancement of students' basic scientific literacy in general with reference to the students' development, (II) emphasis on the process of scientific investigation and training in the spirit of creativity and the development of practical ability, (III) stressing interrelationships between Science-Technology-Society for promoting the integration of science and humanity, (IV) increasing the choice of education, so that the students' learning will be, to a greater extent, based on individual needs and diversity of learning ability, (V) allowing multivariate approaches to learning, training and assessment for strengthening students' autonomous learning abilities. …

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