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Re: VCAA audit. As far as I am aware, the VCAA audit is only concerned with Units 3 and 4 and whether the various requirements of the course as far as practical activities, assessment tasks, etc are addressed.
What are schools doing with options: There is no hard data on how schools are offering the options. Anecdotal comments over a number of years suggest that teachers are fairly evenly divided. Some have their favourite option that they want to share with their students, while others value the students choosing topics they are interested in, with the side benefit that students are exposed to other areas of physics being explored in the classroom. As an experience of physics the latter has more to offer.
At the Course Planning Day for Units 1 and 2 held at the end of last year, Jane Coyle presented a very useful session on ‘Multiple Options’ . Check details of her presentation on this website under ‘Events The webpage not only has her presentation, but many of the resources she has used, as well as a link to own website, which has even more. She has spoken on this topic many times over the years, so check out ‘Course Planning’ under ‘Teachers’ and the various Conference pages on this website.
In regard to the comparability of different options, there are two issues: practical activities and assessment. For practical activities, it is enough that each option has a practical activity. Even with astronomy options, there are simulations and spreadsheet activities that could be done. For assessment, teachers commonly use an oral presentation supported by log book, etc. It could also be a group effort by two or three students who have been working on the same option. Some teachers involve other students in the class in the assessment. While other teachers arrange for their students to present to another class, say a Year 9 class, or possibly to parents and others at an evening event.