Recently, both South Africa and the United States have undertaken reviews of the physics education being offered in their respective countries in higher education institutions (CHE-SAIP report, 2013; NRC report, 2013). These reviews came about as a consequence of concerns that have arisen regarding the appropriateness of curricula and the quality of the education that is currently being offered by our universities.
In the light of these two reviews what becomes critical is how physics departments, specifically individual physics lecturers, adapt their teaching practices in response to the competencies of their students.
Many studies have shown that in order for meaningful learning to occur in university science subjects such as physics, lecturers need to give more consideration to challenges that arise from the different communication forms such as written and oral language, diagrams, graphs, mathematics, apparatus, laboratory routines, etc. that are typical to the educational environment.
This seminar will discuss results arising from a set of comprehensive interviews undertaken with physics lecturers from South Africa and Sweden in relation to how they deal with these challenges, which we are calling challenges of representational competence. The aim of this presentation is to contribute to a better understanding of how the development of representational competence in physics students is currently being faced and to open a discussion about appropriateness and quality in the teaching and learning of university physics.
Funding from the Swedish National Research Council and the South African National Research Foundation is gratefully acknowledged.
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