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Re: [Phys-l] Physics First Revisited

But from the research it is quite clear that most science and math courses
are not "teaching" critical thinking. This includes physics. The evidence
is that scores on the Lawson Test of Scientific Reasoning do not go up as
the result of a conventional science or math course. But the evidence that
scores do go up after a course based on the learning cycle. This evidence
has been around for a looooong time. Look at the old papers by Renner,
Lawson, Karplus...

Actually in England the evidence is that the scores have gone down over the
past 30 years. This was published by Michael Shayer fairly recently. He
originated the paper an pencil Piagetian test which formed the basis for the
Lawson test.

So it is sad that they are neither coming in with the thinking skills nor
are they developing them during conventional science and math courses.

So rather than physics first, why not good interactive engagement "science"
first. This would raise the thinking level. But also this needs to be
applied to math. At the recent joint math conference there was some good
evidence presented that an IE course dramatically improves understanding of
calculus. So maybe the best would be THINKING FIRST!

John M. Clement
Houston, TX

I try to cover less material
and teach kids more how to think (conceptual questions, peer

In my mind, this is actually a symptom of our educational problems.
(Physics) should be where students are exercising their thinking skills
rather than learning them for the first time. That a college physics
often takes on the primary curricular responsibility for introducing
critical thinking skills is the sad commentary.