Monday, January 10, 2011

Advanced Placement Courses changes coming (needed)

I teach Advanced Placement Physics B. The course covers everything that would be covered in a college physics-mechanics, physics-electricity/magnetism and atomic physics courses. There are way too many topics to cover adequately in the limited time we have in a high school course.

The College Board, which runs the AP testing and AP programs, has been talking about changing the curriculum for some time and it looks like things are starting to change. AP Physics B is planned to be split into two courses, favoring depth over breadth. This is actually what multiple surveys, including one by the College Board, of college professors support. Less breadth, with more depth of understanding. (I can't find the survey reports, but I'm still looking).

I meet with my AP Physics class every other day for 90 minutes. This is not enough. I try to include as many labs and projects as I can, but it is hard when the AP test is just about problem solving and answering certain types of questions. I have to make sure I get through all of the topics before the start of May when the AP tests are held. I tend to do labs and projects after the test. I would love to have just half of the topics to cover because I could cover them in so much greater detail, have the students do better labs and more projects, and the students would have a greater understanding of the concepts. They could still qualify for skipping "Physics 101" or "102" instead of both. And, I've seen reports that more and more colleges are not allowing students to receive credit and skip classes because of AP test scores, so the test isn't as important.

I do believe that AP classes are a great way to expose students to college level work and curriculum and to help prepare them for college, but I think there have to be changes to the curriculum.

Here is a great summary of some of the issues and changes coming to the AP program from Jonathan Martin:
"Re-thinking AP: Thank Goodness, but will it be enough?"

Scott McLeod also comments on these changes:
"New Advanced Placement programs to focus more on critical thinking, less on regurgitation."

Here is the AP Programs site if you are interested in checking things out:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...