VCE Course Planning Documents for 2016 - 2021
Note:The study design for 2020 has been adjusted due to the impact of COVID-19. Some dot points have been removed for 2020 only and the conduct of the Practical Investigation has been changed. Some of the questions in the past papers will not be relevant in 2020. Check below for the adjusted study design, a summary of the changes and the exam questions that do not apply.
The adjusted Physics Study Design released 1st May 2020 with deletions in red text and with strikethrough, Changes in blue text and highlighted in yellow. Note: This document only applies to 2020.
A two page document listing the dot points that have been deleted from Areas of Study 1 and 2 in Unit 4 for 2020 only, along with the changes to Area of Study 3, the Practical Investigation.
A spreadsheet of the questions from the November exams and the NH exams for 2017 - 2019 that test the dot points that have been deleted from the Physics Study Design for 2020 only.
A two page document describing a week by week teaching program for Unit 4 of the adjusted Physics Study Design. It is based on the exam period starting in the week beginning 9th November and that teachers will use the end of Term 2 and the first week of term 3 to consolidate their students' understanding of Unit 3 content and possibly hold mid year exams.
In 2016 the new study design began. The document can be downloaded from the VCAA website. There were implementation briefings held in 2015. The powerpoint and a video of the presentation by Michael Rosenbrock can be seen here.
This website already has webpages for the two new Areas of Study in Unit 1, Thermodynamics: How can thermal effects be explained? and What is matter and how is it formed?. The content on the current webpages for Electricity and Motion should suffice. The webpage Investigations and Practical Activities has useful information on EPI's including lists of topics and templates for an electronic poster.
These course planning resources for Units 1 and 2 have been developed so far.
A course plan for Units 1 and 2 with the dot points from the study design grouped in a teaching sequence with an indication of the time to cover each group of dot points. Each group has suggested activities. The plan includes details on managing a few options at once as well as suggestions for running the practical investigation.
This list of ideas was generated at the networking meeting held in October 2015. It addresses questions such as i) How many options should I run and what is a good minimum number of students per option, ii) formats for learning, iii) Practical Activities Issues and iv) Assessment issues
This Word file can be used with the PowerPoint on looking at Issues in Planning a Course for 2016. It has the text for each slide and alongside it, the commentary that was made. The word 'click' is inserted to indicate the next advance.
A Powerpoint on the issues to consider when planning a course for Units 1 & 2 of new VCE Physics Study Design for 2016. It was prepared by Dan O'Keeffe for teacher briefings in July 2016. A Word file of the commentary from those briefings that accompanied the PowerPoint is also available.
The 8 page document is a table of practical activities for each Area of Study.
Planning for Units 3 & 4
There are links between the three Areas of Study in Unit 3, which leads to the question 'In which order do you teach them?'. At a Unit 3 Course Planning workshop at the 2016 Physics Teachers' Conference, three presenters each outlined how they would plan their course for 2017. All three came up with the same order, that is, start with Area of Study 3 'How fast can things go?' on Motion, but leaving Relativity to the end of the semester. Then do Area of Study 1 'How do things move without contact?' on fields, but starting with the gravitational field, followed by electric, then magnetic fields, which leads on to Area of Study 2 'How are fields use to move electrical energy?' on electromagnetism with the Relativity section of Area of Study 3 linking electromagnetism to motion.
In Unit 4 the two Areas of Study on Light have a natural sequence. While the Area of Study on Experimental Investigations is likely to be done last, but it could be done at any time of the year.
This week by week course planning document has been prepared from this perspective.
A week by week plan of content, practical activities and assessment tasks for Units 3 & 4 with the teaching order of Motion, Fields, Electromagnetism and Relativity for Unit 3
The 8 page document is a table of practical activities for each Area of Study.
An assessment task that is an extension of the analysis of three experiments: centripetal acceleration, potential energy in a spring, and kinetic energy and momentum in a collision.
This is a six page document that considers what is meant by 'Annotations ...' and gives an example of how an assessment task might be designed for the Motion Area of Study.
This is a three page document of worksheets covering a) the Fields Area of Study for problems i) separation of particles, ii) reduction of friction, b) the Electrical energy AoS for problems iii) harnessing the earth's magnetic field in space, iv) optimising magnetic field design, v) harnessing biolelectric fields and c) the Motion AoS for problems vi) road engineering and vii) controlling distant probes.
This assessment task explores the possibility of using online discussions on sites such as 'The Conversation' to analyse the contributions to discussions of science based issues. It has application to a number of Area of Study and Options.
This 14 page document discusses the factors in deciding on assessment tasks for Unit 3, lists various combinations and includes the assessment tasks listed above.
An assessment task of an oscillating mass on a spring prepared by Jane Coyle, Albert Park College. It can be done as an open book exercise. See also the file of answers with a marking scheme for the task.
The answers with a marking scheme for the assessment task of an oscillating mass on a spring prepared by Jane Coyle, Albert Park College.
Note: The assessment tasks are drafts with questions incorporated to guide discussion at the Unit 3 Course Planning Days. Final versions wil be available in December. These drafts have been prepared by Milorad Cerovac, Jane Coyle, Neil Champion, Barbara McKinnon and Dan O'Keeffe.
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Other resources on this website that are of value when designing your course are:
VCE Course Planning Documents for Units 3 and 4 for 2013 - 2016
Beginning in 2013 there was a significant change to the Unit 3 & 4 assessment procedures and to the Unit 3 & 4 content.
- There is only one exam at the end of the year. This exam will assess the whole year's work. The exam will be a two and a half hour exam with 15 minutes reading time. Students can take in 4 A4 pages of notes.
- Only one Detailed Study needs to be studied. The exam paper will contain questions for all six Detailed Studies. Students must do questions from only one Study.
Note: There are minor changes to only a few dot points, as well as the procedures for school assessed coursework. For example, the compulsory assessment tasks, the EPI and the Summary Report, can now be done on any of the topics across Units 3 & 4. Teachers should ensure that they are working from a 2013 version of the study design
Implications: Class time freed up
With one less Detailed Study and no mid year break for Unit 3 exams, up to 5 - 6 weeks of class time are now available for other purposes. This time can be used in one or more ways:
- Additional revision time at the end of the year. With the exam covering the full year's work, that is five discrete topics, an extra two weeks of revision seems appropriate. However, to avoid a monotonous routine, some thought should be given to including a range of revision activities.
- The Extended Practical Investigation (EPI) could be given an extra week, so that it is not only less rushed and but that students can have more responsibility for planning and more time for data analysis.
- An informal mid year exam, done in class time, on the first three topics would be a useful assessment for student and teacher alike.
- More class time for each topic, particularly for the early ones, to ensure a good grounding.
Implications: Which Detailed Study? and when do you do it?
Come the exam, student can choose any one of the six Detailed Studies, so it possible for a teacher to offer two or more Detailed Studies at the one time and simultaneously support the independent learning of the students in the class. However this would only be feasible in a very small class. Most teachers would either select the topic they most enjoy or offer their class a choice from two studies with the majority determining which one is done.
As each Detailed Study is nominally linked to the core Areas of Study in either Unit 3 or Unit 4. It may be best to keep to the natural sequence. Alternatively it could be argued that doing all four core Areas of Study first before the Detailed Study, gives the core content a chance to bed down before it is revisited later in revision.
For some Detailed Studies, their content overlaps or links with one or more core Area of Study so cohesively that the much of the Detailed Study can be covered along side the core Areas of Study, and so, saving time. Examples of this are:
- 'Further Electronics' with 'Electronics and Photonics',
- 'Synchrotron' with 'Electric Power',
- 'Photonics' with 'Electronics and Photonics',
A week by week plan of content, practical activities and assessment tasks for four different scenarios: i) EPI in Motion and Materials DS (pages 1 - 3), ii) EPI in Motion and Sound DS (pages 4 - 6), iii) EPI in Motion and Synchrotron DS linked with Electric Power (pages 7 - 9)and iv) EPI in Materials DS (pages 10 - 12).
The activities and resources listed below for previous course changes still have relevance as the content changes are minimal.
VCE Course Planning Documents for 2009 - 2012
VCE Physics Implementation Workshops: Activities and Powerpoint presentation
Activity 1 on verbs in the study design.
Activity 2 on developing Key Skills in Investigations.
Activity 3 on misconceptions in Physics.
Activity 4 on Units 1 & 2 course plannning.
Activity 5 on encouraging students to do Physics.
VCE Physics Implementation Workshops: Resources package
A sample course for Units 1 and 2 has been prepared. It includes a possible time allocation for Areas of Study and indeed, for individual dot points, as well as possible activities. The sample course takes the approach of selecting Detailed Studies that relate to the context “Solutions for Climate Change” and finding links to the core Areas of Study.
This document describes the extensive range of information on students’ misconceptions in science available on the VELS website. A summary of one example is included that of ‘Forces on passengers’.
Conceptual Understanding Procedures (CUPs) for Physics are an initiative of Monash University. They are a set of teaching procedures designed to aid the development of understanding of concepts that students find difficult. Check their website below.
A list of possible practical activities for all Areas of Study and nearly all the Detailed Studies. Possible topics for practical investigations for Units 1 - 3 are also included.
Activities suggested by participants at the VCE Physics Implementation Workshops.
Paul Hewitt, the well known US Physics text book writer has produced a set of conceptual questions that stimulate and challenge students and teachers. Most are relevant to our course.
Answers to the 60 Conceptual questions prepared by Paul Hewitt.
Beginning Physics In-Services: Material
A PowerPoint presentation on i) the different styles of practical activities with examples, as well as discussion of the factors to be considered in planning summary report on practical activities and the practical investigations and ii) the types of physics resources that are available to physics teachers in a range of formats from text to websites.
The PowerPoint presentation has examples of exam questions that students have found difficult with suggestions of strategies to overcome these as well as worked solutions using the strategies. Advice is also provided on revising during the semester and before the exam as well as specific exam strategies.
The document outlines one person's idea of how to introduce the concepts of electricity in Year 11 physics.
Relevant papers from recent Physics Teachers Conferences
by Paul Fielding, Richard Olsen from Billanook College and Carmel Fry and Paul Fitzgerald from Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School at the 2008 Physics Teachers Conference
presented by Martin Mahy from De La Salle College.
A document of demonstrations by Colin Hopkins, Trafalgar High School and Rob Braidwood, Balwyn High School. Presented at the 2007 Physics Teachers Conference.
Audio of presentation by Colin Hopkins and Rob Braidwood. 60mins.
CUPs is a set of teaching procedures for physics developed by Monash University. They are designed to aid the development of understanding of concepts that students find difficult. There are 12 activities, 10 on Forces, Energy and Motion, and 2 on Electricity.
Link to VELS resource on 'Forces on passengers' looking at 'contrasting student and scientific views', critical teaching ideas and teaching activities.