Getting more Girls into Physics: Action Research.

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This is a practical resource for teachers interested in understanding and removing the barriers to girls’ progression in physics through a practice based inquiry process described as action’s about making a change in your school or classroom and reflecting on whether or not what you did worked. Think of it as reflective practice with a little bit of extra’s about making a change in your school or classroom and reflecting on whether or not what you did worked.

The method may increase boys’ engagement too.

For whom is this guide intended?

As long as you can answer “yes” to any of the following questions?
1. I’d like to make physics more appealing to girls,but I don’t know where to start.

2. The girls in my class are attentive in lessonsand do well in exams, but few choose to carryon with physics.

3. I have tried to make physics more engaging to girlsin my classes, but I don’t know whether it is working.

4. My students often ask “why are we doing this?”or “what’s the point?”.

5. Other staff in my department are looking to me tomake difference in this area.

6. here is a long history of girls not participating inphysics in my school, I’m not convinced there’smuch I can do about it.

7. I’m frustrated that despite my best efforts, girls justdon’t seem to share my enthusiasm for physics.

8. We’ve tried numerous approaches to increasing girls’participation over the years, but none seem to havehad a long-term effect.

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” then read on – the process of change starts here. In fact,action research methods can be used to stimulate and nderstand changes in many areas of education, not just girls’ participation.

What is action research?

Action research is a flexible spiral process, which allows action (change, improvement) and research(understanding, knowledge) to be achieved at the same time. The understanding allows moreinformed change and at the same time is informed by that change. People affected by the change are usually involved in the action research. This allows the understanding to be widely shared and the change to be pursued with commitment.

Why action research and not just action, or just research?Action research is all about positioning an individual teacher as the agent of change in the situation. So pick an area that you are interested in and can be enthusiastic about; it will make the whole process more worthwhile.

The three elements of the action research approach are:-

  • Understanding the problem
  • Identifying good practice
  • Effecting change

What does action research involve?

Here I describe the action research process in five steps.
Step 1. Decide on the intervention (the thing you’re going to change)
Step 2. Plan the action research.
Step 3. Do the action research.
Step 4. Reflect on success.
Step 5. Share learning