|M.Sc Student||Zach Efrat|
|Subject||Interdisciplinary Program in Electro-Optics: Pupils'|
Attitudes and Development of Systems Thinking
|Department||Department of Education in Science and Technology||Supervisor||Dr. Aharon Gero|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
An interdisciplinary curriculum in electro-optics that combines physics with electronics was recently developed and implemented at a leading Israeli high school. The program has three study phases: fundamentals of optics and electronics in 10th grade; an introduction to electro-optics in 11th grade; and electro-optical systems in 12th grade. This program integrates engineering principles into science teaching with the objective of enhancing the pupils' interest in these subjects and encouraging them to develop future careers in these areas. The program aims to address the current shortage of engineers, which stems, among other things, from pupils' lack of exposure to engineering during their high school studies. Besides the desire to arouse interest among the pupils to pursue advanced studies in physics and engineering in the future, the program was also designed to develop the pupils' systems thinking skills, which are increasingly needed in our age due to the fact that technological systems (including electro-optical systems) are becoming way more complex and interdisciplinary than ever before.
The research described here characterized changes, which took place during one academic year, in the attitudes towards interdisciplinary learning of physics and electronics and towards future pursuit of physics and engineering of 45 pupils (10th-12th grades). It also evaluated changes in their systems thinking skills. Both quantitative and qualitative tools were used to collect data. The pupils were asked to complete anonymous questionnaires both at the beginning of the academic year and at its end. In addition, semi-structured interviews were held with pupils at the end of the academic year. Over the year, the classroom was regularly observed. The observations were done in theory lessons, laboratory lessons and during periods dedicated to project work.
Research findings reveal a notable improvement in 12th grade pupils' attitudes towards interdisciplinary learning of physics and electronics over the course of the year. Pupils found the integration of the two areas to be interesting and believed that it leads to a deeper learning of the disciplinary contents. The research also found that 12th grade pupils' systems thinking skills improved over the course of the year and that they began adopting some of the systems thinking properties, such as viewing the entire system beyond its components and understanding the interaction between the system's components. Additionally, the research showed that over the course of the year, pupils' (10th-12th grades) desire to pursue more advanced studies in the area increased.