The Physics Education Track of the Rothschild-Weizmann M.Sc. program
Leading Team Members – Past
Project members – Lecturers and Tutors
- Dr. Nitzan Akerman
- Prof. Ran Budnik
- Dr. Hagar Landsman
- Prof. Mordehai Milgrom
- Dr. Eilon Poem-Kalogerakis
- Dr. Oren Raz
The Rothschild-Weizmann Program is an academic program offered by the Feinberg Graduate School of the Weizmann Institute of Science, aimed to create an elite corps of teachers. The program grants a non-thesis MSc Degree in Science Teaching.
The program’s goal is to expose the teachers to the wide scope of contemporary physics and supply them with necessary research-based tools and instructional approaches for teaching Physics in their high school classes. The program includes courses in physics, courses in physics teaching, general courses and a final project.
The physics courses in the program consist of an introductory course – Mathematics of Physics; four general courses (Classical and Relativistic Mechanics, Advanced Electromagnetism, Quantum Mechanics of Photons, Atoms and Molecules. and Statistical mechanics through numerical examples); and three courses dedicated to the exposition of particular fields in physics (Applied Optics, Nuclear and particle physics, and Astrophysics). In addition, the teachers participate in a physics laboratory course joining one of the Weizmann Institute physics research groups for two continuous weeks in the summer. The students then prepare a report on their laboratory research. These courses take a unique approach, highlighting the development of fundamental conceptual frameworks hand in hand with the acquisition of skill in their application.
The physics teaching courses consist of two courses on clinical teaching in mechanics and in electromagnetism; a course on modeling, inquiry and problem solving; and a course on issues in physics education – considerations in curricular development.
These courses acquaint to the teachers physics education research related to students’ difficulties and instructional strategies to promote conceptual change, Inquiry, Problem solving and modeling strategies, and students’ agency in their learning. The courses are anchored in teachers’ practice: The teachers implement research-based instructional strategies in their classes and study the influence of these strategies on their students’ learning. The topics of the general courses are Cognition, learning, and instruction; Assessment Methods in science and mathematics education; and History and philosophy of science in science teaching
In the final project the teachers work in teams. Each team focuses on a contemporary physics topic and suggests how to associate it with the high-school physics curriculum. The teachers learn thoroughly the physics involved; design a short module integrating a variety of research-based methods in physics and physics education to be presented to their peers.
Many of the program’s graduates are integrated in key positions such as leaders of the physics teachers’ learning communities, teachers’ mentors in PeTel and leaders of variety of initiatives, as well as in further academic studies.
And what do the graduates say?
- “The program completely changed my teaching. For example, various activities that can be undertaken with students to engage them in truly learning; or pedagogic research that exposes the reasons for a certain teaching method’s success in contrast to another’s failure, diagnostic methods, and alternative perceptions among students – all improve how I go about it in the classroom”
- “In the program I discovered that I do not know everything and that it is always possible and necessary to grow as a teacher and develop the ability to personally assimilate new teaching methods”
- “The program improved my self-confidence and enhanced my knowledge in physics and also helped me find new friends and be a part of a community of peers”
- “The program encouraged me to develop professionally and to initiate instructional innovations”
Our thanks to the Edmond De Rothschild foundation and the Morris and Rosalind Goodman Foundation of Canada for their support of the project.
- The program page on the Feinberg Graduate School website
- The Rothschild-Weizmann Program for Excellence in Science Teaching – A Ten-Year Report