Equation-centric physics teaching – why I’m leaving it behind.

elements of learning

“Physics is boring.”, “Physics is hard.”, “Physics is just remembering all the equations.” Comments I have heard all too often from students. I’ve been thinking about why many students have this perception of physics, whether it’s justified, and how we might be able to move away from it.

With the increased requirement for students to memorise equations, and the large percentage of marks in GCSE papers devoted to their recall and use (well over 30% in 2019 AQA GCSE Physics papers), it’s no surprise that teachers are tempted to focus on equations. I’ve certainly been guilty of this. In the 2019 AQA Physics papers a student scoring full marks on all the calculation questions, while leaving the rest of the paper blank, would have achieved a Grade 5 – what further justification of the importance of equations is required, you might ask? I’m certainly not advocating forgetting about equations, or…

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