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Physics Teachers Surveys

Unit 2 Survey

In late 2016, A survey of the teaching of Unit 2 was conducted. Its purpose was to i) find out about teachers' experiences of the Unit 2 Options and the Practical Investigation Area of Study, ii) share what worked well and iii) identify areas where support is needed. The survey will run until the end of January.

Analysis of the results.

How have teachers done the Options?

Options offered.

67% offered the students a choice of option(s). Of these half offered the full set of 12 options. The other half offered a selection. One third of respondents chose the option for the class.

Options done (of the 42 respondents)

  • What are stars? (23 offered, 18 did)
  • Is there life beyond Earth’s Solar System? (20, 12)
  • How do forces act on the human body? (23, 9)
  • How can AC electricity charge a DC device? (18, 7)
  • How do heavy things fly? (24, 22)
  • How do fusion and fission compare as viable nuclear energy power sources? (20, 11)
  • How is radiation used to maintain human health? (18, 12)
  • How do particle accelerators work? (18, 8)
  • How can human vision be enhanced?(24, 13)
  • How do instruments make music? (27, 16)
  • How can performance in ball sports be improved? (20, 9)
  • How does the human body use electricity? (16, 7)

57% of respondenst did more than one option, with 21% doing more than five options.

Assessment tasks: All types of assessment tasks were used except the modelling activity and a proposed solution to .. a problem. The more popular tasks were: a report of a phenomenon (15), Test (9), a reflective learning journal/blog (7), summary report (6) and data analysis (5).

Useful Resources: Other than textbooks, specific resources were, Astro: PhET, Crash Course Astronomy on Youtube, Flight: FoilSim, Particle accelerators: Synchrotron. The VVLN was also mentioned.

Next year, any difference?: Mostly no, if anything, a little earlier and with more time.

How have teachers done the Practical Investigation?

Topic Selection:

  • 28% provided a small set of topics from which the students could choose.
  • For 55% of the respondents, the students were able to suggest topics of their own or choose from a list of possible topics.
  • For 17% the students had to suggest their own topics.

How many students work individually and how many in pairs?

  • All students worked individually: 5 teachers
  • All students worked in pairs: 9 teachers
  • All students worked individually or in pairs: 17 teachers
  • All students worked in pairs or in groups of 3: 21 teachers

6 teachers have groups of four or more.

It can be argued that nearly all practical investigation topics really only require one or two students, perhaps the occasional complex topic may require three pairs of eyes and three pairs of hands, but it is hard to imagine a topic in which four students are productively engaged.

What topics did the students investigate?

Most respondents provided an extensive list of their students' topics. The list of over 140 topics can be accessed below. There are many innovative topics in the list e.g.

  • Investigating domino fall,
  • Friction of a shopping trolley,
  • Optimum weight ratio for a trebuchet,
  • Does the mass of a marble change the ripples it produces when dropped into a tank of water?.

Most of the topics were on Motion, while a good number were on the Flight and Ball games Options. Five of the other options also got a mention.

Some of the topics related to Unit 1 content on Thermodynamics and Electricity, while a few respondents listed the topics that were basic formal experiments, such as Newton's 2nd Law. Both these types of activities are inappropriate as topics for the Unit 2 Area of Study 'Practical Investigations'. Also few respondents listed only one topic. If it was the case that the whole class did the same topic, then this situation is not in the spirit of practical investigations.

Weeks of Class Time for the Practical Investigation

  • 2 Weeks: 29%
  • 3 Weeks: 43%
  • 4 Weeks: 26%

When was the Practical Investigation done?

About a third did the practical investigation in the second half of Term 3, the rest did it in Term 4.

Use of a Poster for all or part of the assessment for the Practical Investigation

90% used a poster in the assessment with 43% using it as part of the assessment, 38% as the sole assessment component, while 10% did not specify whether the poster for the sole or part contributror to teh assessment.

How will you do the Practical Investigation differently next time?

Some won't change anything, while some others will start earlier. Specific changes proposed were:

  • assess in stages,
  • more emphasis on the students' planning of the task,
  • more topic choice for students,
  • less similar topics,
  • restrict to pairs,
  • provide more feedback to students,
  • prepare the Year 10's

For what aspects of the Practical Investigation would you like further ideas or resources?

Suggestions included:

  • examples of rubrics
  • exemplars of posters
  • More ideas on possible PI topics, requiring basic equipment
  • assessing group involvement
  • Uncertainty calculation- there seems to be a few methods out there and I would like to know what approach is expected for the Units 3 & 4 exam.
  • Lots of resources online for creating posters
  • More ideas on what students can do, with a little bit of explanation of how it can be done (rather than just a one-line idea).

Surveys on Qualifications, Teaching subjects and School responsibilities

At the 2006, 2008 and 2012 STAV/AIP Physics Teachers Conferences teachers were surveyed on their qualifications, teaching subjects, administrative responsibilities, when they intend to retire and, once they retire, whether they would be interested in covering teachers seeking long service leave.

If you were not at the conference or did not pick up a survey sheet there, a copy is available below, as well as an analysis of the previous survey.

It is of value for the survey to achieve as wide a coverage of the profession as possible. Can you please mail the completed survey to Vicphysics Teachers' Network, PO Box 290, Flinders Lane, VIC 8009.




Microsoft Word


126 kB

The analysis of previous surveys.

Microsoft Word

Physics Teachers Survey Form

51.7 kB

A survey form on qualifications, teaching experience, subjects taught and administrative responsibilities.