Paths towards success and failure in physics at G.C.E. advanced level : a longitudinal study of pupils' attitudes
In a longitudinal study of pupils' attitudes towards physics in the fifth- and sixth-forms, it has been found that meaningful clusters of pupils exist at both levels. The criterion outcomes of physics attainment and enjoyment can be characteristically 'predicted' for each stereotype grouping. A planned, 'logical' method of teaching, which encourages discussion and speculation supported by visual media, permits attainment and attitudes to be for maximised two-thirds of the sixth-form groups. A similar approach in the fifth-form, which also provides for teaching-for-understanding, is recommended for five of the seven pupil- types identified. Practical teaching strategies are outlined for dealing with physics classes comprising a range of pupil-types. From an analysis of teachers' perceptions of effective science teaching behaviour, seven teacher stereotypes have emerged. A group of 'optimum outcome' classes has been identified in the fifth-form. These classes are taught by 'model teachers', who recognise the nature of science and teach by experiment, based on a coherent theory of learning. Generally, physics is rated the most difficult of the common academic subjects in the fifth-form. This rating is little different even for the A-level physics choosers. The latter tend to select the subject primarily for career reasons. Physics is rejected at A-level because of its difficulty and a lack of interest in the O-level course. Subject enjoyment deteriorates for boys during the sixth-form course, but remains stable for the girls. Course outcomes vary according to G. C. E. A-level examining board. Attainment and enjoyment generally show a significant association, although this disappears for girls in the upper sixth-form.