Steps to Solve a Physics Problem (and how it relates to problems in education)

  1. List The Problem
  2. List Variables
  3. List Equations (Possible Strategies)
  4. Substitute Variables and Solve (Implement Strategy)

1) Problem: The results show that only 70% of all students in public high schools graduate, and that only 32% of all students leave high school qualified to attend a four-year college.” Green and Forster (2003)

2) Variables:

Teachers: Are the competent or incompetent? Are their methods outdated?

Students: Are they competent or incompetent? Are they motivated?

“If children have interest, then learning happens.” – Arthur C. Clarke

Society: Does society value education?

School Systems: Is there a disconnect between teachers and the administration? Do schools have                                                              adequate funding?

3) Equations: Fire bad teachers and subsidize training for better teachers, Reform Curricula, Create New Forms of Curricula, Incorporate More Technology, Encourage lifelong learning, No Child Left Behind

Physics is about solving problems analytically. Many fields will hire people with physics backgrounds because they can break apart problems, isolate variables and solve them. There are many ways in which education in America can improve. In EDT 400 we talk about how technology can increase student’s engagement. We watched Isaac Asimov talk about how technology can allow a student to follow his passions at his own pace and Heidi Hayes Jacobs talk about how we need new forms of education rather than reforms. What we need to remember as a class is that technology is not the only factor; there are many other variables.

Schwier states in his conclusion, Schwier, R.A. (2009, June), This paper does not suggest that using technology to support the development of virtual learning communities will
 address the many challenges faced by schools and other institutionalized learning communities.”As we talk about technology in education it will be important to keep in mind that it is not a cure-all. We still need to develop a system to objectively weed out bad teachers. We still need to inspire society to value education so that parents don’t discourage what their children are learning. We need to encourage lifelong learning so that professionals do not become outdated halfway through their career. Yes, all of these problems will require technology in their solution but lets not ignore that there are other components that need to be addressed.


Schwier, R.A. (2009, June). Pursuing the elusive metaphor of community in virtual learning environments. Proceedings of ED MEDIA 2009, Association for the Advancement of Computers in Education, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Greene, Ph.D., & Forster, Ph.D. (2003). Public High School Graduation and College Readiness Rates in the United States

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