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Advice to Teachers -
Physics

Student investigations

Student-designed investigations

The formulation of an investigable research question and proposal for an associated methodology is crucial to enabling students to meet unit outcomes. Teachers should ensure that proposed hypotheses and methodologies enable students to proceed with investigations such that all health, safety and compliance guidelines are followed, as specified on pages 8 and 9 of the study design​, and whereby students could reasonably expect to generate primary data that can be suitably processed and analysed. In particular, the general guiding principle behind ethical research is to do no harm to participants, the researcher and the broader community. Teachers should guard against research that may be inappropriate for inexperienced student researchers and be mindful of particular sensitivities within their school communities and the broader community. Due to the scope of scientific investigations, students must be practical and realistic when deciding on investigation topics. Teachers need to be equally pragmatic when counselling students about their choice of research topic and when guiding the student in the formulation of the research question. Appropriate teacher intervention not only minimises risks but also serves as important feedback for students. Schools should have in place approval mechanisms, either through ethics committees or approval authorities within the school, to ensure that students undertake appropriate research.​

Management of the Units 3 and 4 practical investigation

One practical investigation across VCE Physics Units 3 and 4 must be undertaken and reported in a scientific poster format and assessed as part of Unit 4 School-assessed Coursework. The practical investigation must be based on content in Unit 3 Areas of Study 1, 2 and/or 3 and/or Unit 4 Areas of Study 1 and/or 2. It would be expected that the investigation is a coupled or open type of scientific inquiry. The practical investigation can be undertaken at any time across Units 3 and 4. The student must design an investigation that will generate primary data sets and involve consideration of variables, including through laboratory experiments, fieldwork, model construction, simulations involving random data and the use of databases. Teachers must ensure that all proposed investigation procedures and materials comply with all relevant safety, health and ethical regulations and/or codes of conduct. Students may work in groups to generate data, but all data manipulation, analysis, evaluation and reports must be the work of the individual student. Authentication of student work may be monitored through a variety of strategies including classroom observation during practical work, review of student logbooks, student interviews, setting of specific questions related to the investigation as part of the student assessment, and completion of data generation, manipulation, analysis and evaluation in class time. Time outside class may be allocated to background research and to completing references and/or acknowledgments.

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