By Emily StottA new study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology indicates that teaching math and science in high school could help educators and students improve their math and reading skills.
The findings suggest that teaching students about the history of physics could be a great way to build a more informed curriculum for the general public.
The study, by University of California, San Diego, professor Matthew W. Hallett and colleagues, found that students who received high school math and physics teacher training, but not science instruction, showed better math and math-related knowledge when they turned 16.
This improvement, they say, may be due to the fact that the physics teacher helped students better understand the concepts of relativity, electromagnetism, and the nature of light.
“This study suggests that the science teacher can help students understand concepts that might be difficult for their peers to understand, including the relationship between gravitation and gravitational fields,” said Halleatt.
“In addition, by making students understand the physical laws and principles behind these concepts, teachers can help them develop more analytical skills and better understand how their classmates might use these concepts in class.”
“The research demonstrates that a high school science teacher’s role in providing an engaging, meaningful, and inclusive environment is essential for increasing students’ math and scientific literacy, and increasing their success in school,” said W. Scott Rummel, the James L. Lewis Chair in Education at the University of Pennsylvania and an author of the study.
Hallett, who is also the associate director of the Center for Excellence in Science Education at Stanford University, is the lead author of a new paper titled The Role of Physics Teacher Training in Enhancing Mathematics and Science Knowledge.
The paper was published online March 17 in the journal Science Education.
The researchers surveyed 2,000 middle and high school students across the United States.
The students were asked to complete a survey about how their math, science, and reading were being taught in their high school classrooms.
The survey included questions about how much the teachers were paid, the number of students learning from the same teacher, and whether the teacher was also teaching at the high school level.
HuffPost education writer Emily Stowall contributed to this report.