in a variety of ways, neither the AP nor the IB examinations assess the use of computer tools. Accordingly, the panel makes the following recommendations:

  • Advanced high school physics curricula should, over a period of time, evolve to include more use of computer tools in ways that are effective in physics instruction.

  • Physics education researchers and others should continue to study the use of computers in introductory physics instruction (including advanced high school courses) to identify those uses that are particularly effective in promoting the instructional goals identified elsewhere in this report.

Eventually, cyberspace and information technology (CIT) may completely change the way new physical theories are developed. Instead of analytical models, theorists will use computer programs to conceptualize physical systems that cannot be adequately represented by traditional analytical methods. Students need exposure to such computer-assisted conceptualization as early as possible in their education. Therefore, the panel recommends that an appropriate unit in computer-assisted conceptualization be developed as soon as possible and made available to teachers of advanced physics courses as a possible optional topic (see Chapter 2 for a discussion of optional topics).

Capability for Rapid Information Sharing Among Physics Teachers

The primary opportunity afforded by the ever-expanding Internet is its promise of a new method of communication by which groups focused on particular sets of issues can rapidly interact to develop innovations. Teachers of advanced high school physics courses could form such groups to share and enrich their pedagogical skills. The opportunity now exists to create a national electronic clearinghouse of information relating to secondary school physics instruction. Box 5-1 presents a short list of some Internet groups for physics teachers that are already active.

Box 5-1. Internet Groups for Physics Teachers

The following are some active Internet groups for physics teachers. The descriptions of these groups are taken from the article “Communities of On-Line Physics Educators” by MacIsaac (2000), also available on the Web at

  • PHYS-L (Forum for Physics Teachers) is the largest with about 650 members, and has the broadest membership. The list has a homepage located at, and this page links to archives of all postings since February 1996, and to list members personal web pages at Together these form an outstanding set of resources.

  • PHYSHARE (Sharing Resources for HS Physics Teachers) has about 600 subscribers and focuses on high school physics teaching issues. The list administrative address is, and postings must be made to

  • PhysLrnR (the Physics Learning Research List) has about 475 subscribers and is focused on professional research into physics learning. This maintains a private

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