# How can you Utilise Concepts for Teaching and Learning?

Concept-based learning is not like skill-based learning, so some of the teaching techniques that are useful for skill-based learning may not be appropriate. For example, in learning about wave concepts, repetitive questions requiring the use of formulae (wave equation, refractive index formula, Doppler formulae, diffraction formula etc.) may not help students.

Well-designed examples with well-designed questions that ask for explanations rather than calculations are more useful.

In C2 more learning may occur by asking students one question regarding the explanation of the wave equation using a simple analogy (e.g. counting train carriages passing by) than by giving them ten practice questions of the “plug and play” style (substitution in the correctly identified formula). Practical experimentation can also play a role here; the student may need to find ways to adjust the apparatus to get the desired ranges of data. Playing with (adjustment of) apparatus may encourage the student to more thoroughly explore what is happening, for example, whether twisting the glass block a certain way gives a greater or smaller angle for the refracted beam. Perhaps even more powerful is “generative learning”; asking the students to teach (explain) to each other. The old adage about only understanding something if you can explain it to your grandmother may be at work here!

A final thought on utilising concepts in teaching physics is that the relevant concepts are often (but not always) clearly represented with geometric diagrams. Most vector quantities and their manipulation may be represented with 2d paper and pencil sketches. All the mathematical relationships needed for the IBDP may receive some 2d graphical representation. If required, they can also be animated and extended into 3d using GeoGebra or similar. For the conceptual physics teacher, the conceptual tools needed are paper and pencil, chalk and board, smartboard and Algodoo!

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