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eommn high school ^iysics co psf 


B.S., Baker University, 1961+ 


submitted in oartial fulfillment of the 

requirements for the degree 


College of Education 

Manhattan, Kansas 


Aporoved by: 


I a j or Professor 



The author wishes to express his sincere appreciation 
to Dr. Ronald Anderson, Assistant Professor of Education, 
Kansas State University. His suggestions in planning and 
comoleting the report have been most helpful. 




Statement of the Problem ••••• •• 3 

Importance of the Study . • k 

Procedures Fnrployed in the Study. •••••••• l± 



Organization of the Physical Science 

Study Co*.'---"ittee ......... 5 

Why and How the Physical Science Study 

Committee Developed Its Course ....... 10 

The Physical Science Study Committee Course • • • 22 








Since the early years of the 20th century, the natural 

sciences have undergone two distinct and consequential changes. 

First, the sciences themselves have r-.rown enormously , both In 

technique and In depth. Mext, science has become inextricably 

interwoven with our daily life* l odern man whether he la aware 

of It or not f lives his life in constant aseociation with methods 

of scientific research an*- 1 consequences of scientific research. 

In business , legislation, and statesmanship ■ 
the scientist increasingly is called upon to helo 
unravel the social nnd economic l^ollcatlon of 
science. But beyond Its technological goods and 
meaning, science as a humanistic study stands on 
its wn terms as a dynamically stable system with 
Its own ends and precedural st^lc. As a form of 
human exoresslon, it is one of the triumphs of 
the intellect. It lends oerspeotive and direction 
to the other asoects of life. It is a system one 
can ill afford to ignore If one is. to become a 
whole man in a world of whole men. 1 

The teaching of high school physics has received con- 
siderable attention during recent years due to accelerated 
technological and scientific advancement and a recognition 
on the o»rt of teachers, administrators, and laymen of the 
vital role that science will play in the future of our 
country. The traditional neterlals and methods of teaching 

1 011bert C. Finlay, "The Physical Science Study 
Co" lttee," School Review, 70:6I±, Spring, 1962. 

high school physics have been severely criticised by some 

people In responsible positions. For example, Flbert P. 

Little stated, 

There Is a powerful Intellectual discontent 
with the present status of science teaching; the 
scientists, the teachers, and the educated laymen 
are all disturbed by the discontent that science 
teaching does not fairly represent science « x 

Because of this criticism, a multimillion-dollar program for 
the revision of the high school physics curriculum was under- 
taken by the Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC) under a 
grant from the National Science Foundation. The Committee 
was organized in November of 1956 to devise a modern course 
in ohysics for the secondary school and to prepare materials 
for the course. 

During the 1957-58 school year, the PSSC course was 
offered in eight schools in the United States. Since this 
time the number of schools teaching the course has risen 
sharply. "There are approximately 5,000 teachers using the 
PSSC program during the 196L-65 school year with around 
200,000 students. This is aoproxlmately 50 per cent of the 
secondary school students in the U.S.A. enrolled in ohysics." 2 

x Elbert P. Little, "From the Beginning," Science 
Teacher , 21+ : 31 8, November, 1958. 

^Educational Services Incorporated Newsletter , 
(Watertown, Massachusetts i Fducatlonal Services Incoroorated, 
January, 1965), $. k* 

In 196l4.-65> f fifty-three teachers in Kansas used the PSSC 
physics materials. 

There has been wide controversy over the effectiveness 
of the course* For example, some teachers feel the course is 
not teaching enoufh ohysics to r»lve the students the back- 
ground they need for college physics courses and therefore* 
does not prepare students for college work as well as a con- 
ventional high school physics course. There have also been 
opinions stated by some teachers that the PSSC course is a 
revolution in the teaching of science and will make physics 
a more meaningful course in the secondary school. 

This study was designed to make an objective evaluation 
of the effectiveness of the PSSC course in the secondary schools. 

S t atone nt of the problem The puroose of this study 
io to answer the following questions: 

1. Why and how was the ^SSC course developed? 

2. What are the opinions of teachers and educators 
icerninfr the course? 

3. Are the objectives formulated by the Committee 
being achieved by the students taking the PSSC course? 

1 letter from Warren J. Bell, Fducation Consultant of 
Science and I nthenatics, 'ansas Stato Fepartment of Public 
Instruction, Tooeka, Kansas. 


Importance of the study . Because of the wide diversity 
of opinion among teachers and educators on the MUM program, 
and the fact that many schools are using the program or are 
considering nutting the Drogram into their curriculum, the 
author has undertaken this study to determine, if oossible, 
if the objectives of the Committee have been reached. 

Procedures employed in the study . The author collected 
his data for this report from all pertinent articles, papers, 
newsletters, dissertations, theses, and books that could be 
located. Most of the material used was located at Kansas State 
University library, Kansas University library, or was obtained 
through interlibrary loans, and correspondence with Educational 
Services Incorporated, Kansas State Department of Education, 
8nd the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The 
materials are organized into the following categories for 

1. Background and development of the PSSC course. 

2. Opinions of teachers end educators on the effec- 
tiveness of the p SSC course. 

3« Research studies to determine the effectiveness 
of the p SSC course. 

ij.. Summaries and conclusions regarding the PSSC 
course for secondary school physics curriculum. 


A historical study of the inception nnd development of 
the ?SSC was made In order to better understand the ohilos- 
ophy end underlyincr beliefs of the committee members • The 
following oagec also point to the objectives formulated by 
the PSSC. 

The organization of the Physical Science Study Committee . 
The PS?C began formal operations in November, 19£6. The 
formation of the committee was made possible by e r^rant of 
$303,000 from the National Science Foundation to the Massa- 
chusetts Institute of Technology. An additional grant of 
$1!4.2,000 was made by the National Science Foundation In August, 
19 c '7» In October, 19E>7 further grants were made by: the 
National Science Foundation, #300,000; the Ford Foundation, 

$£00,000; the Fund for the Advancement of Education, $200,000; 


and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, 325>0,000. As of January 1, 

19£8, the ?SSC had expended *6l4.9, 000, By September 30, 19£8, 
the PSSC had spent an additional f 1,0)4.5, 700. The budget 
established for the fiscal year October 1, 1959 to October 1, 
1959 was ?2, 600, 000.3 I'he total cost of revision during the 

1 First Annual Report of the Physical Science Study 
Committee , (Watertown f iTassacnu setts: The Committee, January , 

WPTi p. 13. 

2 Ibid. 

period 19^6-1961 was «o proximately six million dollars, 
exclusive of teacher-retraining costs which came to approxi- 
mately an equal sum. Continuing costs of the PSSC are pres- 
ently running at a level of #300, 000 per year. 

The first steps in the development of the committee 
were informal discussion groups which were formed in and 
around Boston. These groups developed tentative outlines 
for a new physics course. The discussions were stimulated 
primarily by ftr. Jerrold R. Zacharias of the Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology. 

Concurrently with these informal discussion groups, 
in and around Boston, some essential work was being carried 
on by the American Institute of Physics, the American 
Association of Physics Teachers, and the National Science 
Teacaers* Association. Tnese groups were actively engaged 
in a study of the traditional physics textbooks being used 
throughout the United States. 

With this kind of informal beginning, the committee's 
work gained impetus with the first grant from the National 
Science Foundation in November of 1956. ihe newly formed 

* Jerrold R. Zacharias and Stephen White, "The Require' 
ments for Major Curriculum Revision, 1 * School and Society , 
92:67* February 22, 1964. 

Elbert 9 . Little, "The Physical Science Study 
Committee," Harvard Educational Review , 29:1, inter, 195>9» 

Physical MltBe* Study CoKu:ittee, directed by Jerrold R. 
Zacharias, Flbert P. Liltle, end Francis L. Friedman, held 
its first major planning conference on December 10, 11, 12, 
1956 • This conference was held et the Massachusetts Institute 
of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ihe committee met 
to discuss and to plan iioroved and modernized courses in 
physical science for secondary schools. Forty-eight committee 
members were in attendance , representing more than twelve 
universities* government agencies, and commercial laboratories. 
Following this meeting several of the centers prepared out- 
lines and preliminary drafts to be presented in a conference 
during the summer of 1957 at the Massachusetts Institute of 

During this summer conference of 1957* university 
physicists worked with high school physics teachers from 
many oarts of the country along with specialists in such 
fields as testing, film-making, educational administration, 
and editorial production. All parts of the program were 
started, but the textbook and laboratory were given priority 
so that enough material would be available to use in courses 
the coming year. 

*"A Planning Conference P.eoort: ihe Physical Science 
fctudy Committee, w Physics Today , 10:28, March, 1957. 

^Gilbert C. Finlay, "The niysical Science Study 
Committee," School Review, 70:72, Spring, 1962. 

rurirr* the 1957- c '8 school year eight teachers used 
the preliminary versions with about three hundred students 
participating. This first year of experience with the course 
was veil scceoted by the teachers using '-he course. m i'he 
•J h% teachers who used the course in 1957-58 claimed thei 
would never return to the •OBfOttt tonal text apein." 1 Teachers 
and students were enthusiastic and found the course stimulating, 
The results of the preliminary achievement tests user* that 
year indicated that the students attained the e'esired levels.^ 
However, the shopping for the laboratory equipment by the 
teachers, and construction of this equipment by the students 
was both lengthy *nd costl- . Because of this the co/rdttee 
turned to the development of easily assembled kits of preformed 

Tn the summer of 1958 t I proximately three hundred 
hi<rh school ohysics teachers attended five national Science 

adatlon Summer Institutes at which the PS8C corse was 
the subject of etudy.3 The orelimlnary coarse materials were 
supplied without cost to any of these teachers who desired 
to use them the following year. Turing the 1953-59 school 

^-Randolnh Jance, "The Six New Science Curricul ims," 
School Management , 7? 63, June, 1963 • 

^Gilbert C. Finis.;, Thi ''hysical Science Study 
ittce >" School Review , 70:73, Spring, 1962* 

^Flbert t* Little, "The Physical Science tttttf] Com- 
mittee," Harvard r ducat lonal Review j 29o» Winter, 1959. 

year 12,500 students In 286 schools in the United States 
were taught the new physics course. 

The new course materials used during the 1958-59 
school year included a preliminary textbook, teacher's guide, 
laboratory program, a few films, and a set of ten achievement 
tests. ^ All the feedback information from the teachers that 
used the materials was accumulated and used to revise the 
textbook and other materials. Also, during this school year 
a non-profit organization, Educational Services Incorporated, 
was created to assume the administration of the PSSC-* 

During the summer of 1959 about seven hundred teachers 
studied the course in fifteen institutes. For the 1959-60 
school year the course materials were provided at cost to 
the schools that wished to use them. About 560 teachers 
and 22,500 students used the materials. Of the teachers 
that had used the course the previous year, 96 per cent 
elected to continue with the PSSC.^ Except for the films* 
a complete set of preliminary materials was on hand. 

^"Frederick L. Ferris, Jr., "The Physical Science Study 

Committee: will It Succeed?," Harvard Fducatlonel Review , 
29:32, Winter, 1959. 

2 Gilbert C. Flnlay, "The Physical Science Study Com- 
mittee," School Review , 70:7lj.# Spring, 1962. 

^Annual Report of the Educational Testing Service for 
the Year 1953-59 (Princeton, New Jersey: Educational Testing 
Service), p. 15 • 

^•Finlay, oj>. clt ., p. 75» 


Puring the 19^9-60 school year, the Committee's major 

effort was directed to a complete revision of ell printed 

materials and the design changes appropriate to the commercial 

production of kits of laboratory apparatus . By the fall of 

I960 the textbooks, laboratory guidebooks, apparatus, teats, 

films, and teachers' guidebooks had been turned over to 

commercial supoliers and were available to all teachers who 

desired them. 

During 1960-61 the course was used by about eleven 

hundred teachers with lj5,000 students. In 1962, 20 per cent 

of all students taking high school physics in the United States 

were using the ?SSC materials and by 196!j. this percentage had 

risen to 50 per cent. 

Why and how the Physical Science Study Committee 

developed its course . 

In content, the traditional (or conventional) 
course imitates the introductory physics course 
in college. Applications of physics to technology 
are stressed rather heavily. Problem-solving, 
ranging from the simple exercises in substituting 
data into a formula to more demanding tasks, is a 
part of the course. Laboratory exercises are 
usually of the highly organized variety called 
"cookbook" experiments .3 

lGilbert C. Flnlay, "The Physical Science Study 
Committee, * School Review , 70:73>, Spring, 1962. 

2 W. C. Kelly, Survey of Education in ^hyslcs in 
Universities of the United States , (Hew York; American 
Institute of "Physics , 19614. ) p • 10 • 

3 Ibid., p. 11. 


For the purpose of this paper the author will use the 
term traditional or conventional to refer to any physics 
course being taught on the secondary level other than the 
Physical Science Study Committee course* The conventional 
texts today are built around Newtonian mechanics* The course 
begins with statics, goes on to kinematics and dynamics, and 
In the light of these disciplines undertakes to explain, one 
after another, heat, light, and sound* 1 There was a feeling 
by rzsny educators before 19!>5 that such an organization was 
beyond criticism; it had logical unity and reflected both the 
current state of knowledge and general attitude of the 

"In the years that have passed, physics has thrust out 
wider roots an<5 borne unimaginably richer fruits, like quantum 
theory, relativity, and nucleus and subnueleus of the atom*" 2 
Because Newtonian mechanics rapidly ceased to serve as a 
unifying concept, the subject compartmentalized and physics 
became several distinct and disconnected subjects such as 
mechanics, optics, heat, sound, and others* 

Since none of these could be covered adequately In 
the time at the teacher's disposal, the temptation grew to shift 

Elbert ?. Little, n From the Beginning, n Science 
Teacher , 2!j.:3l6, November, 19£7* 

2 Ibid., p. 317. 


the emphasis from the science, which in many cases was not 
beinr taught, to the technology* This helped students under- 
stand oractical applications they could observe, as an 
internal combustion engine, a refrigerator, a radio, and even 
a sDace shin* More and more the teachers were teaching a 
subject the scientists did not even recognize as science* 

The informal co^'ittee of 1956 came to the following 
conclusions about the traditional high school physics 

1* Textbooks in general reflected a scientific 
outlook that dated back half a century and was no 
longer representative of the views of the scientific 

2* Genuine attempts to remain abreast of sci- 
entific develooments had given even the best text- 
books a patchwork quality in which the unity of 
physios disappeared* 

3» The sheer mass of material in the textbooks 
had become so great that it could no longer be 
re&sonably taught in an academic year or even in 
two years* 

U.» With the increasing application of science 
in everyday environment, physics textbooks had 
given over more and more of their attention to 
technology, thus further overloading the course 
and further minimising the concepts of science 
itself, and Its unity** 

Meanwhile, as the syllabus had come to be steadily 

less representative of the subject matter, the need had 

become greater* A large and constantly increasing proportion 

1 Elbert P* Little, "From the Beginning," Science 
Teacher , 2k' 317, November, 1957* 

2 Flrgt Annual Report of the Physical Science Study 
C o mr i i 1 1 ee (Watertown, ? assacEusetts : The Committee ,"" 
January, 1958), p* 3* 


of high school students were going on to make careers of 
science and engineering. The rest, whether businessmen 
or skilled laborers, could almost certainly expect to come in 
contact with science. 3ut in the face of these realities, 
secondary school curricula failed to make science a meaningful 
oart of general education. "Misapprehensions about science 
In the public mind have become one of the principal reasons 
why we have today, too few students studying scientific 
careers, and too few teachers competent to teach science."* 
In summary the 19£6 problems in science involved: 

1. A recognition of the real significance of 
science In our modern world. 

2. The need for a change in attitude toward 
scienoe and the necessity for reducing the gap 
between the eclences and humanities. 

3» The develooment of a truly new curriculum 
which cannot be done by accretion, but which must 
be done by a total and complete reorganization 
which will also orovide for the development of 
a high degree of scientific literacy among the 
rank and file of our peoole. 

14.. A necessary change in attitude towards 
teaching at all levels with a view of recog- 
nizing its imoortance and its Droblems and 
with a dedicated effort toward the solution of 
these oroblems, while at the same time retaining 
and expanding our efforts in the creation of 
new knowledge.-' 

Animated by an outlook such as this, the PSSC was 

Albert P. Little, "From the Beginning, " Science 
Teacher , 2U?3l8* November, 1957« 

2 Ibid ., o. 3I6. 

^Addison F. Lee, "Current Problems in Science Education," 
Science Education, 1^9:1^0, March, 196£. 


organized to seek ways of giving this outlook expression 
In the high school curriculum. Therefore, the original 
statement of the Committee's alms was: 

1. To olan a course of study in which the 
major develooments of physics, up to the present 
time, are presented as a logical and integrated 

2. To oresent ohysics as an intellectual and 
cultural pursuit which is part of oresent-day 
human activity and achievement; 

3. To assist physics teachers by ":eans of 
various teaching aids to carry out the proposed 

As an initial target, the Committee chose to design 
a new course to fit into the current pattern of the high 
school curriculum. The Committee addressed itself to the 
oreparation of a one year ohysics course for the students who 
are currently taking physics. These students make up about 
one-fourth of the high school population, drawn mostly from 
the uooer half in achievement and aptitude, and include a 
large number who are not seeking a career in science. 

The Committee decided to plan a course dealing with 
ohysics as an explanatory system, a system that extends from 
the domain inside the atom to distant galaxies. The course 
was designed to tell a unified story— one in which the 
successive topics are chosen and develooed to lead toward 

1 Leo F. Klopfer, "The p hysiea Course of the Physical 
Science Study Committee: A View from the Classroom, n Harvard 
Educational Review , 29:26, Winter, 1959* 

^Gilbert C. Finlay, "Secondary School Physics: Physical 
Science Study Committee," American Journal of Physics, 
23:2^7, March, I960. 


an atomic oicture of matter, its motions and interrelations* 
The aim was to oresent a view of physics that would bring 

a student close to the nature of modern physics and to the 

nature of ohysioal inquiry* The student should see ohysics 

as an unfinished and continuing activity* For example, ideas 

about waves and oarticles keep reoccurring, each time to be 

carried further in a higher synthesis of ideas* 

This coherent, searching character of Man's 
aporoach to building an explanatory structure 
of the ohysical world is one of the course's 
principle aims and caief pedagogical characteristics* 2 

It was also decided that the course would be directed toward 

familiarizing the student with two central notions of modern 

physics, the wave particle duality and the modern concept 

of the atora*^ The Committee attempts to develoo scientific 

ohysics from the ground up with nothing being handed down 

from high authority* The course is built to read like a 

novel, with a continuous building of physical concepts* 

The oroblem was to create enough comorehension to generate 

the motivation for wading through tough logical sequences 

^Gilbert C. Finlay, "The Physical Science Study 
Committee," School Review , 70:61*, Spring, 1962* 

2 0ilbert C. Finlay, "Secondary School Physics: 
Physical Science Study Committee," American Journal of 
?hyglcs , 2fl:292, March, I960* 

3jerrold R* Zacharias and Stephen White, "The 
Requirements for Major Curriculum Re vis ion, " School 
and Society , 92:67, February 22, I96I4.. 


end develop a genuine interest in scientific ideas and 

fc 1 

The student is expected to be an active Participant 

in thia course. The student is expected to wrestle with a 

line of inquiry, including his own laboratory investigations, 

that lead to basic ideas* 

The fundamental idees are brought out partially 
in the students work on end-of -chapter problems, 
but Tore importantly the ideas are brought out 
aequentially through using those ideas which are 
introduced early to illuminate ot.ier ideas in a 
chain that comorises an introduction of the 
structure of physical 

No one-year course in physics can give an adequate 
account of both an exoanding physics and the related 
technology. The Committee therefore, chose for its subject 
matter the big overarching ideas of ohysics; those that con- 
tribute most to contemporary physicists' views of the nature 
of the physical world • Through its material the Committee 
seeks to convey those asoects of science which have the 
deepest meaning, the widest applicability, and the greatest 
power for further thought and activity. Because of thia 
feeling, some of the long familiar topics in secondary school 

^-Parrel W. Tomer, "New Physios Course for High Schools 
Fevelooed by the "SSC," California Journal of Secondary 
Fducatlon , 33*^93* December, 1959 • 

2 Gllbert C. Finlay, "The Physical Science Study 
Committee, " School Review , 70:65, Spring, 1962. 

3Gilbert C. Finlay, "Secondary School p hysics: 
Physical Science Study Committee," American Journal of 
Physics, 261287, March, 1960. 


sics arc not central to the overarching view sought in 
the P SSC course, and as a result, do not appear in the course. 
In attempting to transmit those ideas and styles of thought 
that have the broadest apolicability, the Committee judged 
it wise to shift the emphasis in secondary school physics 
away from technology toward a deeper exploration of basic 
ideas and the nature of inquiries* Technological application 
has not been eliminated fron the course, but it has been cut 
back sharply from its previous role* The reduced emphasis 
on technology does not imply disapproval any more than the 
reduced dependence upon trigonometry implies disapproval of 
mathematics. This technology was at the forefront of sci- 
entific im'estigation several centuries ago, but now it does 
not shed as much light on our present day picture of the 
physical world as does a study of waves and particles. 

Perhaos one of the text's most distinctive character- 
istics is its technique of attempting to build familiarity 

with the substructure of the concepts of physics, rather 


than assert principles, then show applications. The course 

exoloree oarts of optics, mechanics, and atomic physics more 
deeoly than usual in order to show how a field of thought 
is developed. 

barrel W. Tomer, "Hew Physics Course for High Schools: 
Developed by the P SSC," California Journal of Secondary 
Education , 33 :1^9U# December, 195o". 

^Gilbert C« Finlay, "Secondary School Physics: Physical 
Science Study Committee," American Journal of Physics , 
2B:292, March, I960. 


In summary, the principles underlying the coarse 
are the following: 

1. The Com- ittee seeks to oresent ohysics 
as an intellectual activity, rather than as a 
body of rules for the control or the manipula- 
tion of natural phenomena. 

2. The Committee seeks to reflect in its 
course the spirit of inquiry. 

3* The course reflects, as much as oossible, 
the world of physics as it appears to the profes- 
sional pfcytltlftlj "op only In this manner is it 
likely to have eny clear relevance to the student 

1+. The Committee's course prefers to pre?ent 
the traditional subdivisions of ohysics as various 
asoects of t single discipline. 

5. The nature of the American school system 
makes it desirable to create a course which will 
be relatively independent of the order and content 
of the rest of the secondary school curriculum. 

6. The most difficult decision which faced 

the ^SSG at the outset of its work was the decision 
to omit from the course large areas of nhysics, 
and the selection of those areas which would be 

A whole br.ttery of techniques is being used to get 

the story of physics across to the students. The text attempts 

to lay out a coherent framework. Problems and exercises lead 

the student into inference and interpretation as well as 

practice In elementary reasoning with basic concepts. The 

text was developed simultaneously with laboratory experiments; 

and, although it was intended that the text should be able to 

Isteohen White, "The Physical Science Study Committee: 
The Planning and Structure of the Course, " Contemporary 
Physics , ?:[|.1-Iv3, October, I960. 

2 A. B. Arons, "The New High School Physics Course," 
^hyslcs Today , 13*12* June, I960. 

stand as nearly as possible on its own, it was written with 
laboratory work in mind. The laboratory orogram includes 
about fifty experiments in all and ten of these experiments 
are done in modern physics. 

Since laboratory work is used as a tool contributing 
to the generation of ideas, the laboratory is designed to 
give the student an opportunity for personal discovery. The 
exDerlments are designed to supoly firm rooting for the 
growth of ideas by providing non-verbal contact with rele- 
vant data* The experimental situations as they are presented 
to the students are "open ended". The basic ideas of the 
experiment are carefully discussed, but very few explicit 
instructions are given. Students are led to do as much as 
possible within a minimum of directing and are urged to 
extend the inquiry on their own initiative. The experiments 
are both qualitative and quantitative. The most common use 
of the laboratory experiment is to introduce a topic or to 
contribute to the early stages of its development. 

Because the Committee realizes that physics teachers 
have a budget to meet, all costs for the laboratory have 
been measured in dimes and dollars. "Almost all the apparatus 

^■Gilbert C. Finlay, "Secondary School Physics: Physical 
Science Study Committee," American Journal of Physics , 
28:292, March, I960. 

2 A. B. Arons, "The New High School Physics Course," 
^hysics Today , 13:22, June, I960* 

is designed to be built by the students themselves, either 
In the laboratory or, in rare instances, In the school 1 s 
shop courses." The building of aooarstus is as much a oart 
of physics as learning about different concepts. There will 
be little the student will use in the school laboratory that 
he cannot duolicate in his garage or cellar. There he can 
modify, elaborate, or redesign an experience, and set up 
"doing ohyelcs" on his own. 2 Also the time taken for con- 
striction in the laboratory is small and very rewording. For 
examole, in ten minutes a student can make a microbalance out 
of two oins, a eoda straw, and a wood screw, with sensitivity 
down to twenty micrograms oor millimeter deflection.-* 

A great deal of what might ordinarily be called demon- 
stration is provided by the films produced by the Committee. 
Films are being used to bring to the classroom certain 
extended ideas beyond the level of the text and certain key 
exper5.ments that are likely to be too difficult, too time 
consuming, or too costly for students to perform or for 
teachers to demonstrate. Because the films articulate closely 
with these resources and most of the film producers assume 
that the viewer Is familiar with earlier parts of the course, 

^Jerrold R. Zacharias, "Into the Laboratory," Science 
Teacher , 2lj.:32i4., November, 1957. 

2 Ibid ., p. 325. 

■^Harold ^. Knauss, Physics for Secondary Schools," 
••■■lei'lcan Journnl o^ ''hygics , 24 1 379 1 September, 195'-. 


the sched.lins o* the films is quite easy* r Ihe films are 
intended as take-off points for teachers and students. As 
of February, 1965* sixty-five films were available • 

The Committee also developed a teacher's guidebook in 
order that teachers could outline their class procedures and 
as inquisitive questions. Through theso questions, the stu- 
dents may find insight into the physical concepts* In addi- 
tion to the guidebook, ten standardized tests were developed 
to check the progress of the students. As supplementary sources 
of authoritative and scientific information, the Committee 
developed ■ series of paperback books. The purpose of these 
books was to ittpply deeoar meaning to the course and to 
cover material omitted froa the course. For example* related 
fields like biophysies, technology, the history of physics, 
and biographies of noted physicists are covered in the paper- 
back books. ■ books are a.) p earing as the "Science Study 
Series*, ^s of February, 1961, fifty books had been published 
in the series.^ 

In sumiary, the PS3C developed the following material 
for the course j Wxtboo!:, laboratory guide and a sot of new 

Gilbert C. Finlay, "The Physical Science Study 
Committee," School Review , 70:68, Spring, 1962. 

^ Fc::; optional Services Incorporated Newsletter , 
February, 1965* (Watertown, ^assschusetts : Educational 
Services Incorporated), p. 7. 



and inexpensive apparatus, a large number of films, stan- 
dardized teste, a growing eerie? of psoerbaek books by 
leaders in related fields, end a comprehensive teacher's 
resource book directly releted to the course. 

To be retained, each item of subject matter hod to 
meet the following criteria: 

1. To etrese najor achievement in ohyeiee such 
as the great conservation principles. 

2. To r>ive insight into the way in which these 
powerful ideas were conceived, nurtured, and some- 
times over thrown by even more powerful ideas. 

3. To present a unified story in which the 
inner connections within ohysics were brought to 

I;.. To show ohysice as a human ectivity co - 
parable in significance with the humanities, the 
languages and tho other major studies of high 
school students .1 

Finally, the Committee recognized that no material 
could be teacher-prosjf • The physicists ran summer institutes, 
more of them every year, to train teachers. "By the end of 
1962, nearly twenty-five hundred teachers, who came into con- 
tact with perhaps a quarter of a million students each year, 
had spent at least one summer working on the PSSC course ."^ 

The Physical Science Study Committee Course . The 
PSSC course is divided into four major sections. The first 

^Elbert P. Little, "The Physical Science Study Com- 
mittee," larvard Fducational Review , 29s2, Winter, 19£9* 

^Martin ?*ayer, "Scientists In the Classroom," 
Commentary , 35i31lj., April a 1963. 

Is with J '. basic concents of wh' ' *ie student trust have 
rtd«rf tandlng before he c r Me a worthwhile study of 

the ml *ect ^.ntter of yMonce. Time, distance, motion, the 
BttttPt of measurement, the «to»it structure of matter, end 
the molsculnr lntc-nrct-tlon of cho^ittry t?re the main topics 

first section. The presentation is through 
neral BOBOaptl "r''- N 'r thai soecific definitions, and the 
Bt'.'dent maker scrv tact et once with ^ost of the subject 

Iter ;ith which he will desl later in rro- ter depth* 

The second oart of the course Is a study of optics and 
waves. Ootical phenomena are described first In terms of 
rays and then a particle theory is developed to provide a 
possible piftto r^ 9t the nature of light « Wnen this model 
fails to - }« an explanation of the refraction of li^ht, 

concents of wave action are introduced as an alternative 
H»6el« B7 stttd; ' ig waves in ropes, eorings, and ripple tanks, 
the student is guided to observe the comparison between v;aves 
Of tone properties of light. In this way the student should 
be able to ore diet some new principles of light through his 
experience with waves. The understanding of waves is goneral 

3- Physical Science Study Committee » Physics , (Boston: 
. C« He sth and Company, i960; p. v« 

2 lb Id., p. vl. 

enough to allow extension to other areas. "For instance, 
the nature and properties of sound, though not stressed in 
the course, can be developed by the student because of his 
basic understanding of waves." 1 

iheae two sections, constituting the first half of the 
course, emphasize the kinematics of our universe. Ihe third 
section introduces Newton's laws of motion, showing the 
relationship between force and -notion and leading to the 
extraordinary story of the discovery of universal gravitation. 
Conservation laws form a substantial part of this section 
of the course and lead naturally to a development of the 
kinetic theory of heat as an application of dynamics in this 
particular field of physics. 

Ihe fourth section includes a careful introduction 
of electrical and magnetic phenomena, especially the inter- 
actions of charged particles with electric and magnetic 
fields .3 The techniques of the electrical and electronic 
industries are omitted* but the major experiments of modern 
Dhysics are carefully developed. The photoelectric effect, 
for examole, requires the return to a particle concept of 

1 Elbert ?. Little, "The Physical Science Study 
Committee, ; ' Harvard Educational Review , 29:2, 'winter, 19^9. 

2 Physical Science Study Committee , "^hysics , (Boston: 
P. C. Heath and Comoany, 1960J, p. vi. 

3 Ibid., p. vii. 

light, with new insights Into the nature of both matter 
and 15f?ht.l "The course returns to the study of the atom; 
Its discreteness, Its structure, its charges, its nucleus, 
and its behavior. "^ Thus, the circle U el*fl«d «nd the student 
ft u r ttl to the basic concepts of science with *♦ new understanding 

oomaan in ofimiom ibo i ra 


Because of the difficulty of finding statistical data 
on the achievement of the objectives 01 the Committee, the 
author felt this section was needed to better understand the 
Committee's course. ihis section is designed to rive the 
comments ano opinions of teachers and educators both for and 
against r>f»rts of the Committee's ^•gWi 

One question that is usually considered in reviewing 
a book is the language and language structure used. On this 
point there seems to be two oooosing opinions. One teacher 
believes the language is inoffensively inform**!; *l center 
of mass 'sits still', enarres on ins 1, tors are 'nailed down 1 , 
and dark centers of contour oatterns arc 'globs ' • "■' Another 
aspect of the Committee's oolicy, with rerard to language, 

lElbert ?. Little, "The Physical Science Study 
<"o~r-.1t tee," Harv ard ^du cat long! Review, ?9:3, winter, 19^9. 

2 Tbid. 

^Thomas P. Miner, "^hysicr? PSSOf" ^mo^i^n Journa l 
of ?n?s ics , 29:338, May, 1961. 


was the reluctance to use a key word until proDerly defined • 

"Because Newton's second law of notion is not treated until 

P« 307, the word 'force* is taboo before that. Consequently, 

we have until that point, 'pushes', 'shoves', and 'pulls' 

galore." Another author believes some of the things that 

the students are assumed to know, probably are not known. 

For example, on page 18, galaxies are 
mentioned but they are not defined until 
o. 28. On p. 398 there is mention of "mesons" 
and "hyperons". The authors must have been 
dreaming to assume that the students know 
what these terms mean. 2 

Another complaint given regarding language was that 

no effort was made to get the students to learn to use the 

words and language they should be learning* 

In general the problems given in the text 
are excellent and logically conceived; but they 
fail to create opportunities in which students 
recognize and talk about definitions, describe 
simple physical events in the technical language 
they are learning, articulate lines of reasoning 
and logical connections between steps, recognize 
In words the idealization imolicit in the han- 
dling of a problem.- 

Thomas P. Miner, "Physics: PSSC," American Journal 
of Physics , 29:338, ' ? ay, 1961. 

^Oscar L. Brauer, "Something Dangerously New in 
Physics Teaching," Science Fducatlon , i|J:369~70, 
October, 1963. 

^A. B. Arons, "The New High School °hysics Course," 
Physics Today , 13 :25 9 June, I960. 


A drawback that was often found concerning the 

Committee *e coarse was the lack of enough applications of 

orinciples of physics» 

T quite a?-ree that nhysics, 1959* should 
not be merely a course in technology, but this 
should not rule out the teaching of life situ- 
ations where a principle being taught may be 
applied. One of the best physics teachers I 
know continually. stresses, "Physics is the 
world about us", 1 

All of the physics that is necessary to 
enable the student to understand what he sees 
about him is avoided. For Instance he wonders 
about the electrical refrigerator, the gas 
refrigerator, radio, television, and heat 
engines. Nothing in the PSSC text will 
enlighten him on any of these topics. Even 
alternating current snd sound is not discussed 
In the text. 2 

However, there are some that believe the Committee's 

orogram is en answer to a long needed understanding of 


By trying to educate for an understanding 
of total perspective of science we will naturally 
avoid excesses of detail end the cram course that 
i^-oarts no real understanding of science; that 
does not excite the creative imagination, and 
that rewards only memory and gadgeteering.3 

CNM of the most common criticisms encountered was 

that the course was too long to be taught effectively in one year. 

^William Bsrish, "Reader's Column," Science Teacher , 
26J389, October, 1959. 

2 0scar L. Srauer, "Something Dangerously New in 
Physics Teaching," Science Education , 57:366, October, 1963. 

3Addison K« Lee, "Current Problems in Science Education," 
Science Fducatlon, ij.9:ll4.9* March, 196£. 


ost of the indoctrinated teachers never 
finished the book and some ^nly pot half way 
through* To teach everything in that book 
would take all the school time of the student 
leaving no time for other studies • * 

The Committee's textbook is the largest high school physics 

text ever oublished. It has 63U two column pages or text 

material on a page size 7»5 inches by 9 inches. 

There is a feeling by some that the concepts in the 

textbook are too hard even Tor the top twenty-five oer cent 

of the high school population. 

tfy students remrted that in their opinion, 
these volumes (?SSC text) were written by phys- 
icists to please themselves and other physicists, 
and not for secondary school students. Trie writing 
of the text has tended to obscure the facts, 
bringing them In a vast sea of explanatory words. 
It Is too hard for the students to get at the 
imoortant ideas .3 

However, another opinion was: 

Hy better students (A or B) developed under- 
standing of the subject matter much better than 
in orevious years. However, the C and B students 
aeemed to understand only after detailed expla- 
nation. The C and D students understanding was 
about as usual, but their appreciation of phvsics 
and their attention to detail eeem&d hlgher.M- 

*Oscar L, Srauer, "Something T^n^erously New in 
Physics Teachinp," Science Fducation , Jj.7:367, October, 


Hichard ?. Peynman, "The Relation of Phytlei to 

Other Sciences," The Physics Teacher . 3*112* March, 1961;. 

3summary of Judgments Made by Teacher," Science 
Teacher , 26:£8l, December, 1959. 

**Ibid., p. 530. 


In view of these opinions one could drew the conclusion 

that it Is difficult for the student who does not want to 

think or analyze , but not so for the student who is sincerely 


Another general view that goos along with the opinion 

I the course is hard, is the op in! on that the problems 

are too difficult for the majority of students. 

The PSSC authors work no problems in the 
text and it has very few problems that could 
be classed as easy. Some of the problems 
even depend on theory developed in chapters 
several lhapttN ahead .1 

"Many of the problems arc exceedingly difficult and are 


insurmountable for many of our students*" 

The most effective aspect of the course Is generally 

civen by critics as the laboratory experiments. 

The laboratory experiments may well be the 
most effective aspect of the work of the TB6G 
at this point i &nd continued efforts along these 
lines "it make a major contribution to the 
teaching of ohysics. The emphasis on inexpensive 
•qui orient Is, of course, very admirable, even 
if not actually as new as claimed. Although 
such emphasis is most desirable, it should not 
be oermitted to obscure the fact that much 
scientific work does require sophisticated 

^Oscar L. Brauer, "Something Dangerously New in 
Physics Teaching," Science " cation , £7*368, October, 
1963 . 

? rold . 

3Alexander Calandra, "Some Observations of the Work 
of the PSBC 9 m Harvard Educational Review , 29- , Winter, 

Another r.enaral criticism of ."ogram i^ that it 
tends to stabilize the oresent sequence of science coursei 
i.i ol, whic r ally start with General Science 

in the ninth grade, biology in the tenth, chemistry in the 
eleventh, end physics in the twelfth* This sequence is toe 
order of increasing difficulty as these subjects are now 
taught. It would appear more sound to present tin science 
CMrses in o^der of dependence; thus, since biology depends 
to a substantial extent on chemistry, and l -try on 
physics, it would n^ear desirable to teach physics first, 
chemistry second, and biology last.l 

^lmer Hutchison, director of the Ajnerican Institute of 
Physics, believes the Con-rittee's course has added a fourth 
W 3 W to the list of rearing, writing, and arithmetic. 2 This 
fourth "H tt is reasoning and the vehicle for finding Lhis 
excellence for acquiring t e skill In precise reaso aim is 
physics. "?To secondary fthool education can be sr,ld to be 
either liberal or complete without some study of this 
important subject. "3 The ability to reason is one of the 

Alexander Calandra, M £>ome Observations of the Work 
of the ^SSC," '-Tnrvard Ed ucational Review , 29:20, Winter, 

2"Plmer Hutchison, "°hysics in Our High Schools," 
The p hysics Teacher , 2*386, November, I96I4. • 

3Tbid, 1 p. 385^. 


princiole characteristics by which the advancement of a 
civilization may be measured. "A truly civilized nation is 
one in which the public has a measured confidence in man's 
ability to observe nature and to reason from these obser- 
vations » nl 

Several authorities believe that the most important 
and most difficult phase of the Committee's course is for 
teachers to learn how to teach the course .^ Because some 
teachers are so resistive to change and hate to alter the 
routine of their classrooms, the Committee's program is hard 
to instill in the teachers* In Indiana, a survey was taken 
to determine why teachers did not use the PSBC course. The 
reasons priven were as follows: 

!• Many teachers use Darts of the orogram. 
Usually this means the laboratory exercises. A 
few used the PSSC course in the first part for 
an advanced physics course. These people have not 
attended an institute and for some reason do not 
want to identify themselves with our group. 

2« Several have said after looking at the 
text, they thought it to be too difficult for 
their students* Some of these people were skeptical 
of the intent of the course since it was associated 
with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

3. Some teachers frankly admit they were 
unable to teach the course. They do not go to 

^Fdward C. Colby, "The New Science Curriculum," 
School Management , 8:87, November, 196ij.. 

2 Ibid. 


summer Institutes or evening classes because 
they have a steady Job paying them as much as 
their teaching Job. 

[j.* A great many feel they would like to 
teach PSSC physics, but they already have four 
or five preparations for five or six classes 
of thirty to thirty-five students and Just do 
not feel they have time to prepare for such 
a course. 

5* There are those few that are really 
conservative. Their reasons are obvious .1 

Maybe the major lessons to be learned from the whole 

^S^C program fall in another category* The Progfan oresents 

us with strong evidence that: 

1. High school teachers and college 
teachers can work together and the experience 
is stimulating to both. 

2* Subject matter revision should be 
made by practicing specialists In a field. 

3* High school students will respond 
to an intellectual presentation of subject 
matter, In which rational thought and analysis 
are more i^oort^nt than brute force memory* 

[j.. High school teachers, with proper suoport 
can teach subject matter far beyond the limits 
of what they studied In college* 

5* p roper support consists not only 
of subject ^atter but of the specialists* 

6* An exceptionally favorable method for 
providing this kind of supnort is through the 
use of teaching films In wh* ^h these specia- 
lists are the film personalities, seen and 
heard by the students *2 

Lawrence Gene Poorman, "Indiana p hysics Teachers 
React to PSSC," Science Fducation , 29:171-172, March, 

2 Elbert P. Little, "PSSC," Science Educational 
Leadership, 17:169, December, 1929*"" 


One final opinion should be given since this teacher 
may have hit at the heart of the oroblem of evaluation of 
the O^^rittee's course, as compared to the conventional 
course, even if his opinion ir somewhat biased. 

If one starts with the oremise that the 
aim of a physics course is to oroduce students 
who dan aonly neatly boxed equation? to every- 
day life, end in this way calculate such quan- 
tities as the final temperature of a mixture 
of two liquids or determine the focal length 
of a l«ai| then the conventional texts will 

The second view, if one considers it more 
imocrtant to stress the very basic concepts 
with s doeper treatment than is customarily 
accorded them, and to build up a view of physics 
as a modern quantitative science which relies 
on experiment, deduction, analysis, and pre- 
diction, then the Pftyall ] Science Study Com- 
mittee course is the answer. *• 


Several statistical studies hpve been conducted since 
1957 on the PSSO program. In this section the author will 
attempt to show what research studies have been conducted to 
determine if the objectives of the Committee's course have 
been reached. 

The objectives of the PSSC course have been listed in 
a study by Leslie W. Trowbridge. Trowbridge proposed fifty- 

*M. to". Frledlander, "Book Reviews," Physics Today , 
15:63, January, 1962» 

five objectives of the Committee find confirmed thore objec- 
tives by Interviews and -ueationaires with the directors of 
the PMC« Trowbridge hop listed sixteen objectives which 
are norMc 1 .! ?irly oroo-^ged by the °SSC course and thirty- 
nine objectives which are common to both the p S?C course and 
the traditional course. M ost of these objectives can be 
classified under several general objectives formulated by 
Trowbridge. Prim the outhor's wide reading pboMt the aims 
and j^oals of the Committee, he determined that the following 
eight objectives of Trowbridge are the main objectives the 
Committee was tryin^ to achieve in introducing the course. 
These objectives are: 

1* To emohesize the continuity and unity 
of Physics. 

?• To encourage students to oreoare for 
careers In tho phyaleal sciences. 

3. To orenare students for advanced work 
in colleges and universities. 

lj.« To emohasSze the study of a few major 
tonics at considerable deoth. 

5. To !*moloy thests as a means of deter- 
mining the ability of students to reason to 
logical conclusions when working with unfamiliar 


w' « 

To develon the spirit of scientific 

7. To teach ohvslce to the typical kind 
of hi^h school group which has traditionally 
taken high school physic3 in the past. 

8. To help students learn techniques of 
experimentation in order to find the answers 
to 8ll emblems. ^ 

*• Leslie W. Trowbridge, "A Comparison of the Objectives 
and Instructional Material in Two Types of High School Physles 
Courses," Science Education , 1|.9:117-122, March, 1965« 



The reoort cent Inn es with a summary of the reeeerch 
flndlnps. Then an analysis ie made to determine If the 
objectives have or hrve not been reached . 

From the very berJnninr, a systematic pnrran of 
achievement testing was built Into the development of the 
course Itself. The achievement tests t^rere designed to measure 
the kinds of learninr eroected of students by the authors of 
the course, ^en tests were ?ivcn throughout the year. The 
achievement tests measured the extent to which the course 
objective? hsd been met, and also served as a criterion 
measure ''or ■ self-eooraisnl by the Committee. 

Tn 19^-59 the tests wer^ .^iven to see if the following 
questions could be answered: 

1, Is the group of students enrolled in 
the PSSC ^ogram during 19^-£9 representative 
of the aotltude level for which the course wu 

Is the course generally I ooropriate to 
the ability range of students for which the 
course was designed? 

3» Is the course, as many critics had ore- 
dieted, hopelessly beyond the capacity of the 
students in the lower aotitudo ranges of those 
who normally take ohysics?^ 

* Frederick L« Ferris, frej "An Achievement Test 
Peoort, n Science Teacher , ?6:£?7# December, 1959. 

2 Ibid. 

No comoarison of the effectiveness of the Committee 'a 
course with other methods of secondary school physics instruc- 
tion was contemplated* Fach school was asked to administer 
the School and College Ability Test (SCAT) yielding verbal, 
quantitative, and composite scores for all Physical Science 
Study Committee students and thereby establishing control 
on scholastic aptitude for the test group* 

As the year progressed the schools administered each 
of the tests in the achievement-battery. 

Consistent with the aims of the course, 
nearly every test situation demanded not 
only a knowledge of the subject matter, but 
also an ability to use and apoly this know- 
ledge in the context of a variety of situ- 
ations new to the student.*- 

The consensus of teachers giving the test seemed to be 
that the tests led to discussion that served to summarize 
and clarify the course content and its objectives. 

The test reliabilities of all instruments, including 
the SCAT test, were satisfactorily high. The mean diffi- 
culty of the tests was a little high, but the test did an 
excellent job of discrimination as compared to the College 
Fntrance Fxamination Board .^ 

Frederick L. ^erris, Jr., "An Achievement Test 
Report, " Science Teacher , 26:5>7o» December, 195)9. 

2 Ibid. 


The results of the aptitude testing showed 
that 80 per cent of the ?SSC students scored 
better than the 7£ oercentile of the national 
norms grouD of the United States twelfth grade 
students on SCAT. 1 

Since the Committee's course was designed for those who gen- 
erally rank In the uooer half of their clasp, Ferrls's study 
concluded that the test grouD of students enrolled In the 
course was essentially reoresentative of the aotltude range 
for which the course was designed. ^ 

A special study was made of the achievement test 
results for students in each of three aptitude groups mea- 
sured by SCAT. The three groups were: (Jrouo I, students 
ranking above the 90th oercentile; Group II, students ranking 
between the 90th and 7£tn oercentile; Group III, students 
below the 75>th percentile. One striking fact emerged in 
that there wa^ a marked overlap In the score distribution of 
the respective grouos. A high percentage of students in the 
lower aotitud* 1 group performed better on the achievement 
tests than the median score of the grouo ranking above the 
90th oercentile on SCAT. 

^Frederick L. Ferris, Jr.. "An Achievement Test 
Reoort," Science Teacher , 26:578, Pecember, 1959* 

g Ibid . 



Therefore, it Is now possible to exclude 
the idea that the Committee f c course is apnro- 
oriate only for students of tho highest acadomic 
aotitude. 'ihe evidence obtained from tho testing 
program overwhelr.ingly points to the conclusion 
that* not only is tho course well within the 
capability of the great majority of United 
States high school ohysics students, but that 
experience in it is also highly profitable to 
a sizeable oercentap:© of relatively low- 
aotitude students.* 

°>ne of the earliest studies conducted on the evalu- 
ation of the °hysical Science Study Committee course was done 
by Warren L. Hiosher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, i^g investigation 
was designed to comoare the relative effectiveness of the 
traditional hiirh school physics curriculum and the PSSC physics 
curriculum. This v:is accomolished by comparing scores of two 
groups of students who took the Coooerative Physics Test, when 
the variables of scholastic aotitude, prior achievement in 
nat^rnl science, physical science aptitude, and socio-economic 
status are statistically controlled. 

The exoeriment was carried out over a two year oeriod 
at the Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. All 
students in the school that took hirrh school ohysics during 
the 19£7-£o* school were taught using the traditional physics 
curriculum. A total of ll|.5> high school seniors were enrolled 

■*• Frederick L. Ferris, Jr., "An Achievement Test Report f " 
Science Teacher , 26:578, December, 195>9. 

2 Warren I#. HiDsher, "A Comparative Study of High 
School ^hysics Achievement," (Doctoral Dissertation, 
University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, I960). 

In five clflsros. This proup was designated ns the control 
grouo. The following school veer, 195G*59| five classes of 
13l|. high school seniors completed the course c'evelooec by the 
Committor, which we s designated st thr exoerlmental group. 
The seme teacher was used in ee^h of the different groups. 

Form Z, the latest revision of the Co^oera 5ve ^hysics 
Test, wes used to measure the l?vel of achievement in physics 
of the students. This test was actually based on the objec- 
tives of the traditional course. The objectives of the 
authors of the Committee's n rorran, however, were different 
from the objectives of those who had shaped the traditional 
physics course. Consequently, a test which measured achieve- 
ment thst was exoected to result from the use of the tradi- 
tional course would not be comoletely applicable for measuring 
achievement of the Committee's course. 

Nevertheless most colleges and universities 
were and are oriented toward traditional ohysics 
in their introductory course in college physics. 
Thus the preoaretion of hi^h school (rr^duates to 
succeed in a traditional physics curriculum at 
the collepe level mln-ht be one of the e:*oec- 
tations and requirements that might be postulated 
for any hiph school ohysics or' ir *^"m.2 

^Warren L. Hipsher, *M Comoarative Study of Hich 
School ^hysics Achievement^' (Doctoral Dissertation, 
University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, I960.) o. 9« 

? IMd., o. I4.. 

Thus the decision was made to use the Cooperative p hysics 

In the statistical analysis the effect of the fol- 
lowing four variables were taken into account when comparing 
scores on the Cooperative ^hysics Test. Scholastic aptitude 
was measured by the Gamma Form of the Otis Quick-Scoring 
Mental Ability Test. Prior achievement in natural science 
was tested by the General Achievement Test in Natural Science, 
"'hysical science aotitude was measured by the Engineering and 
Physical Science Aptitude. To establish the socio-economic 
level of each of the students, the North-Hatt Scale was used. 

The analysis of covarianees was used to test the 

following null -hypothesis : 

There is no differ- nee in the achievement of 
the control and the experimental groups in their 
response to the criterion, the Cooperative Physics 
Test, when the variables of scholastic aotitude, 
prior achievement in natural science, physical science 
aptitude and socio-economic status are statistically 

The null -hypo the sis was rejected and the findings of 
the investigation indicated that students taught physics 
using the traditional hip-h school physics curriculum per- 
formed significantly better on the Cooperative Physics 

^Warren L. Hiosher, "A Comparative ?tudy of High 
School Physics Achievement ," (doctoral Pissertation, University 
of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, I960.), p. I4.9. 

Test, than students taught high school physics using the 
curriculum developed hy the ^SSC. In light of their Inves- 
tigation a question has been raised relative to the effec- 
tiveness of the Committee's course in Preparing students 
for traditionally oriented courses in college physics* 

Robert W. Heath of the Fducational Testing Service 
developed a new test which he felt was able to test the 
objectives of the Committee. This test was called the 
Cognitive ^reference Test.*- This tost presented a state- 
ment with four ootions designed to demonstrate different 
forms of cognitive preference in ohysics. One option was 
to show preference for memory of specific facts or terms. 
Another orovided a practical application of the information 
given in the statement. A third choice reflected some 
challenging or questioning of the information given The 
fourth option was a statement of fundamental principle of 
nhys ics underlying the data. The purpose of this test was to 
comoare PSSC classes and conventional physics classes with a 
reference to the four cognitive oreferences. 

The population was made uo of forty-nine teachers 
and their classes using the traditional course and thirty 

^Robert W. Heath, "Curriculum, Cognition, and 
Fducational Measurement," Educational and Psychological 
Measurement, 2k: 239-53* Summer, 196l(.. 

teachers and their classes using the ''SSC course. The control 
group was designated as the traditional physics clashes. 
All students in both groups took the followinr tests: 

1. The School and College Ability Test, °art I, II, and 
Form 1A for scholastic aptitude. 

2. The Coooerative n hysics Test, Form Z for a traditionally 
oriented comorehensive examination. 

3. The P SSC Comorehensive Final Fxamination. 

I+. The Concealed Figures Test to measure the ability to 

change the function or significance of structural elements 
of an object and to use them in a new way.-*- 

Table I shows how the students scored on the dif- 
ferent tests. The 3 SSC grouo, on the average, demonstrated 
less preference for menory of specific facts and for oractical 
aoolication ootions In the Cognitive '"'reference Test, and a 
stronger ^reference for the questioning of assumption and a 
statement of fimdamental principles option than the control 
grouo. The ^SSC groups are, on the average, superior in 
ability as measured by SCAT. The control group performed 
slightly better on the conventional achievement test but 
the °SSC group is much superior on the PSSC test. The °SSC 

^Robert W. Heath, "Curriculum, Cognition, and 
Fducationrl J'easvrement," Educational and Psychological 
Measurement , 2\± : ?lj.f>-2l}.6 , Summer, 1961^. ' 





M oan Standard 
Score Pev. 






Coop. Physics 





PSSC Final 





Concealed Figures 





Cognitive Preference: 






Cognitive ^reference: 





Cognitive ^references 






Cognitive Preference: 





^Robert W. rteath, "Curriculum, Cognition, and 
Fducationsl ^e8Puremont, ,, Fducstlonal and Psychological 

*-.eagure^nt, 24:247, Summer, 196Ij.. 

grouos wore also higher on the Concealed Plngures Test. The 
possibility that the difference In cognitive preference can 
be accounted for by differences in ability was tested and 

Based on the orooosition that the PSSC hip-h school 
physios course has an objective of encouraging cognitive 
preferences different from tho traditional course, the fol- 
lowing hypotheses wore tested, and were accented: 

1* that ~S?.C students demonstrate a stronger 
reference for fundanental principles and ques- 
tioning than non-PS BO students* 

?.m that non- *"' ~ ifc Santl orefer m&mW f for 
facts find practical application %% a greater 
degreo than PSSC student a J 

3« that preference for fundamental orinci ^les 
and questioning Is rcore positively related to 
ac liaraaant test scores for PSSC students than 
for the control gVOttpj and 

km that ^reference for facts anc terms &nd 
for practical application Is more negatively 
related to achievement test aoores for PSSC 
atudenta than for control (VOttp students.^ 

One of the most recent research studies concerning 

the P8S€ was done by Wtlliem W. T>ay to deternine if a rela* 

tionehin exists bet«ean the amount and tyoe of physics tak^n 

by a pupil rid his critical thinking ability • 

^Robert W« Heath, " Curriculum, Cognition, and 
Fducwtionr.l 'aasurement," Educational and Psychological 
Measurement , P!j.:?i|7, Sumner, 196I|. 

? md # , p. 251. 

3willlam w. r a y, ""hysics sn6 Critical Thinking: A 
Comparison of PSSC and Traditional Physics," (A summary of 
doctoral dissertation, University of Nebraska, June, 1961+) . 


A test population consisting of three groups was 
selected from thirteen Colorado secondary schools and con- 
tained 890 individuals* The grouos were divided as follows: 
the ?SSC group comprised 2S oer cent of the total population, 
the traditional physics group comprised 29 per cent of the 
total pooulation, and the no-physics group comprised ij.6 per 
cent of the total population. "All three groups were equated 
on the basis of intelligence; achievement; course background 
in Fnglish, mathematics, social studies, and science; and 
mobility." The evaluative instruments used as a basis of 
critical thinking were the Watson-Glaeer Critical Thinking 
Appraisal, form XM f and Logical Reasoning, form A. 

A questionaire was given to the students whose 
teachers taught both the P SSC and traditional courses and 
this questionaire revealed a distinct difference in accep- 
tance of the physics courses and students 1 attitudes toward 
science. On a question asked about the course being up to 
the students* expectations, the D SSC students answered "no" 
by ^1 ner cent; whereas, the Traditional students answered 
n yes tt by 82 per cent. A question about the method of 

iwilliam w. Day, "Physics and Critical Thinking: A 
Comparison of P SSC and Traditional Physics," (A summary 
of Poctoral rissertatlon, University of Nebraska, June, 


presentation Indicates the 79 oer cent of the PSSC group 

were not pleased with the presentation; while 61 per cent 

of the Traditional group felt the oresentation was satisfactory. 

The students were tested for the following asoects of 
critical thinking; inference, deduction, interpretation, 
logical reasoning, total critical thinking appraisal, assump- 
tion, and argument. Inference, deduction, interpretation, 
logical reasoning and total critical thinking critical aporai- 
sal are all significant at the 1 oer cent level, while assump- 
tion and argument ere significant et the J per cent level." 

An examination of Table II reveals that the ^SSC 
mean is higher than the traditional mean in all but one of 
the categories of critical thinking tested, this being the 
assumption category. n The difference between the PSSC group 
and the Traditional grouo, as well as the Traditional group 
end the no-ohysies eroup, is much less than the difference 
between the PSSC group and the No-Physics group #"-* 3y 
adding the differences between the PSSC and the Traditional 
groups and the Traditional and No-Physics group, it can be 

iwilllam W. Day, "Physics and Critical Thinking: A 
Comoarison of PSSC and Traditional Physics," (A summary 
of Toctoral Fissertation, University of Nebraska, June, 
1961;), p. 12. 

2 Ibld «, p. 13. 

3 Ibid., p. 15. 






Difference measured in 
lOOths of a unit with 
the lowest score as base 



m ui 

•H O 

03 «H 
X! «H 

1 CO 





















l I A 


















^William W. Day, "Physics and Critical Thinking: A 
Comparison of PSSC and Traditional Physics," (Summary of 
Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of Nebraska, 
June, 1961+) p. llj.. 


seen that the difference between the P SSC and Traditional 
groups Is ebout ^ne end one half times la rger than the em- 
ulative difference between the Traditional and No-Phye^cs 

The following were the conclusions made by the 

1. Students who take P8SC nhyslcs exhibit a 
greater ability to solve critical tninkiw? orob- 
lems than do those students who do not take 
physics* as measured by the evaluative instruments. 

2. The results also sucgest an advantage 
of P8S€ physics over Traditional physics in 
developing critical thinking ability and an 
advantage of Traditional physics students over 
students who do not take ohyslcs is measured 
by the evaluative instruments* These differ- 
ences were not tested statistically for sig- 

3. The results of the study support the 
conclusion that of the small sub-population 

of ?SSC and Traditional students whose instruc- 
tor taught both ?SSC and Traditional sections 
of ohyslcs , the p SSC physics students h&ve a 
negative attitude toward the course, when 
compared to the Traditional students. The 
Traditional students were not only more 
positive In nttitude toward their course 
but were also more positive in the areas 
of interest in science and science activities. 

!i* The school population is highly 
mobile and college bound. • 

One of the first ideas that enters the researchers 

mind when considering the °SSC course, is what are the 

William W. Pay, "^hysies end Critical Thinking: A 
Comparison of n SSC znd Traditional Physics, (a sumnary of 
Poctoral Pissertation, University of Nebraska, June, 
196^), pp. 1^-16. 

objectives of the Committee* Leslie W. Trowbridge did 
research on the comparison of the objectives of the MM 
and a Tradition*! nhvsics course* 1 He developed a composite 
list of seventy-two objectives , sone which were unique to 
the PSSC course, some to the traditional course, and some 
eo-r^on to both courses* '3 his be sent to various high school 
physics teachers to have them indicate what they thought 
were tho main objectives of both courses* 

>n>? the objectives on which the PS80 teachers and, 
teachers of traditional courses differed significantly 
were the following: 

1* To help the student become a more 
Intel 1 Lgftitt 90 tubuses 1 of |ha n ^s of 
modern technology* 

2a To teach the ap >lloation ft! ibyj ice 
princioles to rrofarn technology and to 
devices SOWOfl in the life of the student* 

3* To cover the requirements of standard 
state and looftjl syllabi ond examination* 

k» To use a textbook which helps students 
retail) learned inf^r^nti-jn by uee of eumn'ar'ra** 
glossaries, tables, list of conclusions, etc* 

^. o use laboratories to verify facts and 
orinciples of ohysics* 

6* To eriphasJ-ze or*ct5cal On-lish) units 
of measurement *2 

The six objectives listed above were favored signi- 
ficantly by the traditional teachers ov«r PSSC teachers* 

^Leslie W* Trowbridge, *l Conv^p.rieon of the Objectives 
and Instructional Material in Two lyp&t of High School Physics 
Courses," Science Education , lj.9Jll7-12?, 'arch, 196$. 

2 Xbld*_. p. 120. 


The following objectives were favored significantly by 
PSSC teachers over teachers of traditional courses I 

1. To emphasize the intellectual* cultural, 
and liberal education aspects of physics. 

2. To develop an understanding of the pur- 
poses, uses, development, and limitations of 
scientific "Theories" in general • 

3« To teach some of the imoortant historical 
and ohilosophical developments of physics. 

)4.« To emphasize that physicists are typical 
people of academic life with typical human 

5. To emphasize the major concents and 
principles of physics mainly from the stand- 
point of their contributions to physics as a 
pure science rather than an applied science. 

6. To emphasize the study of a few major 
tooics at considerable depth* 

7. To emphasize the method of laboratory 
investigation for learning. 

8. To emphasize the understanding and use 
of Dhysical approximations and models in helping 
to explain theoretical concepts.! 

A research study, conducted aporoximately like 

the Trowbridge study, has been done on the generalizations 

of the PSSC course. Pate D« Rathe proposed an investigation: 

1. To identify and state subject matter 
physics generalizations which are preliminary to 
and basic for those found in PSSC physics and 

2* To seek, through the opinions of PSSC 
high school instructors, the relative desir- 
ability of students attaining these generali- 
zations prior to taking the PSSC high school 
physics course .2 

^Leslie W. Trowbridge, n A Comparison of the Objectives 
and Instructional Material in Two Types of High School Physics 
Courses," Science Education , lj.9:121, March, 1965* 

2pate D« Rathe, "Certain Physics Generalizations 
Desirable for Student to Attain Before Taking the PSSC 
High School Physics Course," Science Education , 14.9:128, 
March, 1965. 

Two hundred twenty-three generalizations were listed 
and twenty-three selected teachers were used to find out if 
they believe these generalizations were stressed by the ^SSC 
course* The following conclusions were develooed: 

1* One hundred thirty-four of these 
generalizations showed relatively high 
desirability for students to attain before 
taking P88C ohysics* 

2* Generalisations showinc relatively 
high desirability for students to attain 
before taking PSSC physics relate mainly 
to topics of matter* magnetism, and some 
asoeots of light and energy* 

3* Generalizations showing relatively 
low desirability for students to attain 
before taking PSSC physics relate mainly 
to topics of waves* dynamics* and some 
asoects of light and energy. 

!j.. This investigation indicated dis- 
agreement among college and high school 
physics teachers as to a) the ability of 
certain science terms to convey a fairly 
accurate scientific meaning and b) how 
accurately quantitative relationships 
should be expressed for pre-PSSC science 
courses #2- 

A research study was completed on the local level 

in Grossmont, California* 2 The purpose of the study was to 

answer the following questions before edootlng the PSSC 

l ;:> ate T. Rathe. "Certain Physics Generalizations 
Desirable for Student to Attain Before Taking the P SSC 
High School Physics Course," Science Education . lj.9:128, 
March, 1965* 

? Leon M. Lessinger, "An Evaluation of PSSC Physics, n 
California £gujpnal c 'idary Education , 37:97-99* 
February, 1^62* 



1. What contribution*! would the new 
progrem yr.ake in the educational life of the 
pu->ile not now being made by the traditional 

?. Would ell oralis co^i only electing 
physics be a^le to handle the subject matter? 

3» What would the reaction be from 
pupils, orrpnts, teachers, btio administrators? 

I±* Would the coarse cause lower rrj&rks 
earned by the pupils? 

5>* What weaknesses were there in the 
urogram which Right require reraerilatlve 

The research Dlan, selected to answer the above 
questions, wes to have five of the six schools teach the 
PSSC program while the sixth school taught the traditional 
course. The Otis test of general intelligence, P8SC tests, 
and a test produced by the teachers of the district were 
administered to all ouoils* ouestionaires and rating sheets 
were developed to obtain oupil, parent, teacher, and admin- 
istrator reaction to the program* 

The results may be summarized as follows: 

1. Pupils stated that they experienced 
marked growth in their understanding of ohysics* 
They were particularly favortible towards their 
Increased ability to see relationships, judge 
the usefulness of facts, and the oooortunity 
to experiment and use Ideas* 

^Leon R« Lessinger, "An "valuation of PSSC Physics," 
California Journal of Secondary Educ ation , 37s97« February, 


2« The parents general reaction was 
favorsbl© 5 they stressed, in Derticular, the 
contribution of the program in their youngs vera 
ability to think independently* 

3» Teachers and administrators felt that 
the pv- f .:ram not yny- tau-ht ohysics but el so 
helped toe pupils learn to think* A by-product 
of the program war I more Insi^htf .1 under- 
standing of Physics by the teachers themselves* 

U» The raarka B&rned, as well ae the actual 
performance of the pupils of oomoerable ability* 
on the PS5C and traditional physics tests do not 
support the thesis that the PSSC program is either 
harder to grass or more difficult to succeed in 
than the traditional program, 

!?• ^SSC pupils were not penalized in their 
understanding of classical nhysics when com arod 
to the pupils or comparable ability taking the 
traditional progras i in the district • 

6. The California sample of PSSC pupils 
did better, statistically, on one of the HMO 
tests and significantly better on two of the 
five ?3SC tests than the New York Stat© sample* 

?• Weaknesses in the program, center 
mainly around the text material, tin© allotted 
for laboratory and previous preparation of the 
iile in the mathematics*! 

Some of the studies reviewed have tried to compare the 
PSSC course and the tradtl nal course* The major problem 
in this tyoo of evaluation will be realistic only if the 
nature and objectives of the co.-rsa are talren into account* 
This is one reason it Is practically impossible to ccmoare 
and tralnate bin rOsmitt*e*S physics course zn6 the tradi- 
tional pnysiea course* fhs complexity of this problem led 
the Oollege Board to authorise a special study to determine 

3- La on H* Lesslnfter* "An Evaluation of PSSC Physics, 
California Journal of Secondary Fducation , 37:97- 9, 
February* l%g* * 

the extent of tic ha -.d leaps of the PSSC physics students 
on the College Entrance Examination Board Physics Vest. 
The results she i the validity of the traditional evaluative 
instrument vr.s questionable for both types of courses* 
Consequently, they ha e reverted to a single examination 
consisting of ouotrtlont involving both co r:;c: f study. 

mother major problem in evaluating a new courte 
such as the °S£C is the difficulty to cetermine whether the 
differences are die to variables which are being evaluated 
or whether the differences exist due to some other variable 
which has not been takoE into consideration. 

Prom the research studies reviewed, the author will 
attemot to indicate which objectives have or have not been 
reached. For some of these objectives it will be possible 
to compare the P SSC and traditional students. In such cases 
If the scores on a test indicate that the PSSC grouo did 
significantly better than the traditional group, then the 
author will assume that the objective has hsen reached. 

Objective number one, "to euphasize the continuity 
and unity o r pfcyales"* and objective number two, "to 
encourage students to oreonre for careers in the Physical 
sciences, * c are the only two objectives that are given 

Leslie V« Trowbridge, W A Comparison of the Objectives 
and Instructional Material in Two Types of High School Physics 
Courses, n Science F&icatlon , 49*117-122, March, 196£. 

2 Ibid. 

where the research studies failed to Indicate whether or not 
these objectives have been reached. 

Hipsher f s research study on the cor arison of the 
PSSC course and the traditional course seems to indicate 
that objective number three, "to prepare students for advanced 
work in college and universities,"! has not been reached. 
Hipsher has shown this by comparing test scores of studentB 
of both the PSSC course and the traditional course who took 
the Cooperative Physics Test. These test scores showed the 
traditional students significantly higher than the °SSC 
students. This Cooperative Physics Test is designed to mea- 
sure the level of achievement and the ability of students 
to succeed in an introductory college physics course. How- 
ever, as Hipsher has commented, the Cooperative p hysics Test 
is designed for the traditionally oriented student because 
most of the introductory college courses are taught like the 
traditional ohysics course. 3ecause of this the student in 
the traditional course may have had an advantage over the 
students in the ^SSC course. 

Trowbridge's study, conducted by sending questionaires 

1 Leslie W. Trowbridge, "A Comparison of the Objectives 
and Instructional Material in Two Types of High School Physics 
Courses," Science Fducatlon, 1^9:117-122, March, 1965>. 

to teachers, indicates that objective number four, "to 
emohasize the study of a few major topics at considerable 
depth, ■• has been reached. This was shown by the fact that 
this was one of the objectives favored significantly by 
PSSC teachers over teachers of traditional courses. The 
author is asFuminrr that because this objective obtained a 
Msrher rating from PSSC teachers that this objective has 
been reached. 

Objective number five, to determine the ability of 
students to reason to logical conclusions when working with 
unfamiliar data, has been reached and verified by Heaths 
study and by Pay's study. This is shown in Heath's study 
by the 3 SSC group getting higher scores on the Concealed 
Flcrurea Test than the traditional group. The Concealed 
Fiprures Test is designed to measure the ability of students 
to change t^e function of structural elements of en object 
and use them in a new way. In Day's study this is shown by 
the PSSC croup scoring higher scores on the items, logical 
reasoning and deduction on the Watson-Clazer Critical Thinking 

On the basis of Heath's study and Lessinger's study 
objective number six, "to develoo the spirit of scientific 

lLeslie W. Trowbridge, "A Comparison of the Objectives 
and Instructional "aterisl in Two Types of High School Physics 
Courses," Science Education, 1^.9:117-122, March, 1965. 


inquiry, ■* has been readied. In Leseinger's study, conducted 
in Grossri nt, California, he shows that the objective has 
been reached by stnting that the study showed the pupils who 
were taking the PSSC course showed more growth in their under- 
standing of relationships and the opportunity to experiment 
and use ideas as compared to a traditional ohysics grouo. 
death's study also shows this objective has been reached by 
showing the PSSC gFoap scored higher than the traditional 
group on the Cognitive Preference Test items, "questioning 
3f information given" and "fundamental principles of physics 
underlying the data". 

Objective number seven, "to teach physics to the 

tyoical kind of high school group which has traditionally 


taken hirh school physics in the past," has been reached. 

This is shown by the Ferris study and the Les singer study. 
One of the main purposes of the achievement test given to 
the PSSC grouD in Perris*s study was to determine if this 
objective hnd been reached. This was shown by the results of 
the aptitude test in that -ost of the students taking PSSC 
course scored in the upper 25> percentile of the national 
norms crrouD of the United States' twelfth grade students 

^Leslie V. Trowbridge, "A Comparison of the Objectives 
and Instructional Material In Two Tyoes of High School Physics 
Courses," Science Education , lj.9 Jll7-1?2» March, 1965* 

2 Ibid. 

on Iff* The Committee believed that the atudentc who 
traditionally took physics were in the upper 2$ percentile 
on the national norms c • Therefore, in tl is's Judr- 
nient, this study indicated that tho st-: dents vr'.io enrolled in 
the PSSC course are representative of the aptitude ran^e for 
which the course was designed. He also believes that I 

res on the achievement tests indicate that the R88C 
students achieved tho level of cometency In physics that the 
Committee had ori inally taq ccted of then, This objective 
is alEO v rifled in Lesrlngcr's study by the fact that the 
marks earned, as veil as the classroom performance of the 
pupils in the study, support the objective thst the 

rse is designed to be taught to the students who generally 
take physios* 

&*eath*s study tn Day*! study verify that the last 
objective, *fcs help students learn techniques of experiijen- 
totion in order to find the answer to a problem,* 2 has been 
reached. Heath's study determined if this objective had been 
reached by comparing the score* of the PSSC group and the 
traditional rroup on tho Cognitive ^reference Test for the 

^Frederick L. Ferris, "An Achievement Test Report," 
Science Teacher , 26:£77, December, 1959* 

Leslie W» T^ovbridcre, "^ Conpsrlson of the Objectives 
and Instruction terial in Two Ty?>es of Hi~h School Physics 

Courses," Science Education , IJ.9J117-122* March, 196£. 


choices "qu^ftlonlftg of information givta" nnd "fundamental 
nrioetoles of obysics nndtrljl lg the data". The scores 
showed the PMC rrouo ranked significantly hi -her than the 
traditional crouo. ray's study verified that the lfttt objec- 
tive had been reached by observing the hirher scores earned 
by the p SSC group over the traditional group on the test 
Items deduction and Interpretation on the Watson-Glazer 
Critical Thinking Aooraisal. 


This renort w«?e conducted in or< > r to <»lve a com- 
plete summary and compilation of all evaluations that have 
been Wtda about the Physical Science Study Committee high 
school physics course* The ^SSC course was designed to 
answer a lonr-gtandinf feeling of dissatisfaction with the 
crerent teaching of ohysics in the hi^h school. The P8SC 
designed a completely new hi^h school ohysics course inclu- 
ding ■ new textbook, laboratory galdt* set of inexpensive 
aonaratus, n- mber of films, standardized tests, series of 
paoorback books, end a teacher's guidebook. The aim of this 
material was to develop In he students a deeoer under- 
standing of the meaning of science by teaching the student 
to develop hie critical thinking ability. The Committee 'a 
aooroach was that selected topics are diecui. jed in great 
detail, with each tooic Itadlag to greater generalizations 
and constant reference to exoerimental observation. 

There has boen wide and varied ooinion about the 

^SSC program. The most frequently listed shortcomings of 

the course are the following: 

1« The text is difficult to read and lacks generally 

the easier drill tyoe oroblems that bridge the gar> between 

first contact with an idea and some mastery of it. 

2. Practical «o^li cations are lacking in the course* 

3. The quantity of subject matter is substantially more 
than can be thoroughly covered by a normal class in one year. 

[4.. A large quantity of the subject matter in the 
course as well as the suggested method of presentation, is 
unfamiliar to most high school physics teachers. 

The advantages of the co .rse usually listed Include 
the following: 

1. The laboratory phase of the program is generally 

2. The students are guided to understand the way a 
physicist learns by using logical deductions and creative 

3. Physics is both a body of knowledge and an activity. 
The orosram unfolds this dual nature of science to the students. 

l\.» The students come away from the course, understanding 
the general orinciples better than they would have in a tradi- 
tional course. 

5. The Committee 1 * program foresees every need of the 
teacher in providing all the necessary items for a comolete 
high school physics course* 

■valuation has been attempted and has oroduced some 
insight into the oroblems confronted. A number of group 
comparative evaluations have been completed In the high 
school oertaining to the Committee's ohysics and traditional 
nhysics co -rses. 

The studies reviewed indicate that most of the main 
objectives first set up by the Committee have been reached* 
The objectives reached are: 

l±* To emohasize the study of a few 
major topics at considers le depth. 

£• To employ tests as a means of 
determining the ability of students to 
reason to iocical conclusions when working 
with unfamiliar data. 

6. To develop the spirit of scientific 

7» To teach ohysics to the typical kind 
of high school grouo which has traditionally 
taken high school physics in the oast. 

8. To help students learn techniques 
of exoerimentation in order to find the 
answer to a problem.! 

The research studies olso Indicate that the objective 
"to orepare students for advanced work in college and universities, " 
esoecially for the traditionally oriented colleges coarse, may 
not have been reached. 

The research studies reviewed did not Indicate whether 

iLeslie W. Trowbridge, "A Comparison of the Objectives 
and Instructional Material in Two Types of High School ^hysics 
Courses," Scfe nee Education, J±9:117-122, March, 196£. 


the objective "to emphasize the continuity and unity of 
physics,"* and "to encourage students to ore pare for careers 
in the physical sciences, "^ had or had not been reached. 

Observed from the point of view of educational research 
the P SSC program offers -rany problems for further study, but 

there is no denying that the way bai been opened to make 


physics a far more valuable part of the high 10 »ol curriculum. 

The achievements of this new coarse should 
serve to reralnc educators what they are often 
prone to forget, that In physics, and also in 
every other academic discipline, there lies 
resources for the solutions of educational 
oroblems which are usually neglected.^- 

The author believes if the ?SSC course is to be a 

total success, the ori-nary concern must be to obtain the 

cooperation of the high school science teacher. He and his 

students are the customers for this product. The teacher 

must try out the program, qt\6 measure carefully its triumphs 

and its failures. The teacher must keep a constant feedback 

flowing to the physicists, the educators, the editors, the 

film oroducers, the designers of apparatus, and all those 

who are seeking to out the course together. If the course 

^•Leslie V* Trowbridge, "A Comparison of the Objectives 
and Instructional Material in Two 'iypes of Sigh School Physics 
Courses," Science Education , lj.9:117-122, March, 1965). 


3 J. A. Easley, Jr., "The Physical Science Study Committee 
and Educational Theory," Harvarc Educational Review , 29:11, 
Winter, 19S9. 


Is to succeed In the classroom and in the classroom alone, 
Its final form mist In the end be determined by the closrroonw 

Because of the need for a greater understanding of 
science, the ^SSC course was developed. This does not mean 
that the P S£C course is the only possible approach to the 
teachinr of ohyslcs» Under way at the prasont time is another 
project that is being developed for the teachinr of high school 

-sics. This project is being done at Harvard University, 
called the harvard °ro,1oct» If man is to continue to live 
successfully in a scientific world, there is a constant need 
for physics teaching and the teachings of all sciences to 
be contemoorary with the times. 




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John, Rev, Richard T. "The Use of PSSC Physics in Kinor 

Seminaries," National Catholic Educational Association 
Bulletin , 57:75, August, 1960. 

Klofer, Leo F. "The Physics Course of the Physical Science 
Study Committee, * Harvard Educational Review , 29:26-28, 
Winter, 1959. 


Knauss, Harold P. "Physics for Secondary Schools." American 
Journal of Physics , 26:37Q-$0, September, 195°. 

Lee, Addison F. "Current Problems In Science Education," 
Science Education , l4.9:li|.6-5l» March, 1965. 

Lesslnger, Leon K 9 "An Evaluation of PSSC Physics," 

California Jc rnal of Secondary Education , 37:97-99* 
February, 1962 • 

Little, Flbert P. "A Commentary," flarvard Educational 
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. "A Mew ".o has is on the 'Tow 1 of Physics," Nation's 
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♦ "From the Feginni ng," Science Teacher , 2l±: 315-19* 
November, 1957. 

. " n S£C: A Physloi Pro gran," Educational Leadership , 
"T7T167-69, Fecember, 1959. 


The p h. -nee Study C. '-lee," Tarvart 

7 ; ducabional Review , 29:1-3, Winter, 1959. 

J-ayer, ,-rtin. "Scientists in the Classroom," Commentary , 
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Miner, Thomas D« 'ftagrilo*: •: . C," American Journal of 
Physics , 29:33^-39, May, 1961. 

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for* Stud«ntl to Attain Before Taking the Physical Science 
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Rosenheim, Edward ~>. "i atheraatics and Physics," Harvard 
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Shamus, frother. "a High School ^hysics Survey," The 
Physics Teacher , 3:121, Harch, 1965. 

"Summary of Judgments Made by Teachers," Science Teacher , 
26:579-^], Fece-bcr, 1959. 

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Tevelonod by the I'ScC," California Journal of Sec ndary 
Fc-ucatlon, 33 :*4-92-95» Fecember, 195 ST" 


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and Instructional Material in Two Types of High School 

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20:l?-l5, Winter, 1959. 

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Year , 195-3-59" ^rinceton, New Jersey : lr ducat ionaT"" 
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Letter from Warren J. Bell, Education Consultant of Science 
and Mathematics, Kansas State Department of Public 
Instruction, Topeka, Kansas. 



high school raraxca cour.- 


M r W. rAESC^NFl 
B.S., Raker University, 1961; 


submitted in martial fulfillment of the 

requirements for the degree 


College of Fducstion 

Manhattan, Kansas 


The threefold puroose of this study was to answer the 
following questions: 

1* Why and how was the Physical Science Study Committee 
high school ohysics course developed? 

2. What are the ooinione of teachers and educators 
concerning the course? 

3* Are the objectives formulated by the Committee for 
t^e course being achieved? 

The procedure emoloyed in this study was to review the 
oertinent literature concerning the PSSC course located at 
Kansas State University, Kansas University library, and obtained 
through interl'brary loans, and various sources obtained through 
correspondence. This investigation produced a considerable 
amount of information oertaining to the PSSC course which was 
organized into the following categories: 

1. Background and develooment of the PSSC course. 

2. Ooinions of teachers and educators on the effec- 
tiveness of the PSSC course. 

3« Research studies to determine the effectiveness 
of the PSSC course. 

2|.« Summary and conclusion. 

It was found that the P SSC course was a multimillion 
dollar orogram designed for the revision of high school physics. 
The D SSC develooed for this course: a textbook, laboratory wide 
and a set of new and inexpensive sooaratus, a large number of 
films, standardized tests, a growing series of paoerback books, 

and a teacher's guidebook. 

The PSSC course was designed to tell a unified story- 
one in which the successive topics are chosen and developed 
to lead toward an atomic oicture of natter* The student is 
exoected to be an active oarticioant in the course, and use 
deduction and logical reasoning to develop the fundamental 

The main criticisms against the Committee's course are 
1) oractical applications are lacking, 2) the course is too 
long to cover in one year, and 3) it is difficult to read and 
lacks the easier drill tyoe problems. The advantages of the 
course are usually listed as 1) the laboratory experiments are 
outstanding, 2) the students are guided to use deductive and 
creative thinking when solving problems, and 3) the students 
understand the general principles better than they would in 
a traditional course. 

The research studies reviewed seem to indicate that 
most of the objectives first orooosed by the Committee have 
been reached.