Future of physics teaching practices: How new and emerging educational technologies mediate teaching and learning


  • Nam-Hwa Kang Korea National University of Education


Physics teaching medium, teaching technology, epistemic agency


The fundamental elements of teaching include students, content, and medium. In addition to blackboard and chalk, lecture demonstrations of physical phenomena have long been the medium of teaching physics. Videos of physics demonstrations by the Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC) in the USA in the 50s were early adoption of contemporary technologies for physics instruction. While the medium of recordings of physics demonstrations has changed from magnetic tapes to CDs and DVDs and to virtual space online, its purposes are the same: making physics principles observable, engaging students, and providing evidence for knowledge claims (Berg, 2012; Kácovský & Snětinová, 2021).

On the other side, for a century, laboratory activities have been a fixed feature of science education where students directly interact with physical phenomena. Given these two unique features, i.e., demonstrations and laboratories, recent digital technology seems to call for a paradigm shift. Lecture demonstrations, whether in magnetic tapes or digitalised mediums, are under the control of teachers in terms of what and when to show. Similarly, laboratory activities are predetermined for students to experience hands-on. Recent technologies allow more interactions between students and the medium of teaching and learning. Demonstrations of physical phenomena are freely available online, and students can watch what they want to, when they want to. Interactive simulations and physical computing have been utilised for quite a while where students perform laboratories different from each other, to answer their own questions in lieu of the traditional labs. Furthermore, interactive virtual reality, mixed reality, and metaverse are emerging mediums in trial and under research (Sonntag & Bodensiek, 2022).

Underpinning the increase in interactions between students and mediums is the constructivist view of learning and the recent emphasis on student agency in learning. From such theories of learning, both demonstrations where students passively watch and listen, and cookbook-style laboratories, are ineffective and fail to help students be active problem solvers as required by the 21st century. Thus, recent technologies are very useful for changing the traditional approaches to teaching to make students active learners. This change is not only by the demand of the era but also by the demand of the students. Not only the medium, but also the students drastically changed. Dubbed Generation Z, the current students in schools and campuses are digital natives who are born into modern technology and familiar with global access to knowledge and tools to reproduce knowledge. Generation Z is used to spontaneously searching for information to make sense of things and create their own content to share with each other. Thus, teaching needs to be reconceptualised to ensure epistemic agency in helping students to be lifelong learners.

In this talk, I will illustrate the changing scenes of science teaching and discuss the notion of epistemic agency and how it relates to teaching approaches.


Berg, R. E. (2012). Resource Letter PhD-2: Physics Demonstrations. American Journal of Physics, 80(3), 181–191. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.3660659

Kácovský, P., & Snětinová, M. (2021). Physics demonstrations: who are the students appreciating them? International Journal of Science Education, 43(4), 529–551. https://doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2020.1871526

Physics Curriculum and Instruction (2022). Teaching Resources for High School & College Physics Courses. https://www.physicscurriculum.com/video

Sonntag, D., & Bodensiek, O. (2022). How mixed reality shifts visual attention and success in experimental problem solving. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 18(2), 023101. https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.18.023101

Author Biography

Nam-Hwa Kang, Korea National University of Education

Nam-Hwa Kang is a Professor of Physics Education at Korea National University of Education (KNUE), South Korea. Before she joined KNUE in 2012, she was an Associate Professor at Oregon State University and an Assistant Professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, United States. She was the Chair of the 2015 revision of the physics national curriculum in South Korea. Nam-Hwa is affiliated with the Korean Physical Society (KPS), the Korean Association for Science Education (KASE), and the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) – a global organisation for improving science education through research. She was an Executive Chair of the Physics Education Committee of the KPS and a board member of NARST.  

Nam-Hwa received her BS and MS degrees from Seoul National University, South Korea, in Physics Education and her Ph.D. degree in Science Education from University of Georgia, United States. Her research centres on bringing science/physics inquiry practices to school classrooms through science/physics teacher education. Her recent publications include, “Emerging online science teaching practices: Insights from high school physics teaching cases in South Korea during COVID-19 pandemic.”

 She will discuss the future of science teaching practices and how new and emerging modes of delivery are being adopted.