The Challenges of Teaching Physics in Urban Secondary Schools

Angela M. Kelly, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Graduate Program in Science Education
Acting Director, Lehman College Noyce Scholarship Program
Coordinator, Teacher Education for Advanced Science Preparation (TEASP)

Lehman College, City University of New York

The presentation will focus on three aspects of teaching physics in urban schools: logistical constraints, physics teacher self-efficacy, and research-based best practices. First, the limitations of urban secondary physics programs will be discussed through data collected in New York City, where physics course offerings are limited and physics teaching positions are often difficult to find. Secondly, urban physics teachers face many challenges in the classroom, and their self-efficacy and resilience will be explored through qualitative interview data. Finally, I will highlight best practices adopted in an innovative weekend physics program at the Bronx Institute at Lehman College. The program was established as an alternative means to provide physics instruction for those students who attend schools that do not offer physics. Research findings indicate significant improvements in students' attitudes, knowledge, and appreciation of physics, suggesting that well designed constructivist physics programs are potentially transformative in improving students' academic achievement, confidence and persistence in science, and positional advantage.
Last modified: Tue Sep 7 14:47:08 2010