Working with Secondary Teachers to Improve High School Physics Teaching

Presented by Associate Professor Elizabeth (Liz) Angstmann

SEA Lecture by Liz Angstmann

Scientia Education Academy Lecture Series

What can we do to help address the shortage of physics trained school teachers?

There is a persistent recognised shortage of discipline-trained high school physics teachers apparent in both Australia and worldwide. Qualified and motivated physics teachers are essential in the secondary education system but are also important if we want more students to engage in STEM subjects at the university level. Currently the number of students choosing to take physics in years 11 and 12 is decreasing. Even more worrying is the decreasing proportion of females within this shrinking cohort. Part of a strategy to reverse this trend is to provide students with positive physics experiences throughout high school.

In this lecture A/Prof Liz Angstmann will discuss three of the ways she is working with secondary teachers to try and reverse this trend. These include the introduction of an online Graduate Certificate in Physics for Science teachers that provide qualified teachers the discipline-based knowledge to effectively teach physics; the introduction of a Visiting Teaching Fellow program where school teachers are seconded to UNSW for a year; and the introduction of SciX, a program to support students doing Science Extension.

Learn more about Associate Professor Elizabeth Angstmann

Image of Associate Professor Elizabeth Angstmann

A/Prof Elizabeth (Liz) Angstmann is an education focussed academic in the School of Physics.

Liz has been the first year director in the school of physics since 2011, she is responsible for the education of thousands of students each year. During her time as first year director, she has introduced many changes to how first year physics courses run, where possible utilising technology to efficiently teach and assess students while concurrently improving the learning experience by encouraging students to be actively engaged. In 2013, Liz introduced an online course, ‘Everyday Physics’, which exemplifies her teaching philosophy: it engages students by presenting them with everyday objects and phenomena, before presenting the physics describing how they work. This elective course is taken by hundreds of students each semester.

In 2018 Liz introduced a graduate certificate in physics for science teachers. This online degree qualifies current science and mathematics teachers to teach physics. Having been a high school teacher, Liz is passionate about assisting school teachers to provide the best possible science experience for students.

Liz is a 2018 citation award recipient of the Australian Awards for University Teaching. Read about Liz's citation award here.