UBC Physics and Astronomy Department

The 2000 First Year Physics Report

This report is based on final marks in UBC first year physics courses offered during the first term. The study includes students who graduated from B.C. schools in 2000. Students must also have Physics 12 or Physics 11 requirements fulfilled. Consequently, the sample used in this study represents about 67% of the total number of students enrolled in UBC first year physics courses. This sample is representative for studying the effect of transition from high school to university on studentsí performance in physics.

Following the initiative started many years ago by the UBC Mathematics Department ( First Year Calculus Results ), the report will compare studentsí participation and performance in UBC Physics courses by region, school and gender. Recent high school graduates from Alberta and Ontario enrolled in UBC first year physics courses are also included in the study. Since this is the first school-by-school report done by the UBC Physics and Astronomy Department, comparison with other years is not available. The purpose of this study is to inform the interested audience (students, teachers, faculty or administrators) about UBC studentsí performance in Physics courses compared to their high-school achievements.

The differences in average student performance from different schools are in most cases rather small. From experience with the Math survey we expect significant year over year variations in ranking. The present survey is an experiment. It is hoped that the information will be of interest to people involved in physics education in BC.

           First Year UBC Physics courses (Term I)

A. UBC Physics courses with Mathematics 12 & Physics 12 requirements.

PHYSICS 101: Elementary Physics I.

PHYSICS 121: Physics I.

PHYSICS 153: Elements of Physics (this is a two-term course; only first term results are included in analysis)

PHYSICS 170: Mechanics I (This year, PHYS 170 was not included in analysis due to the small size of the group of students who graduated high school in 2000).

B. UBC Physics courses with Mathematics 12 & Physics 11 requirements.

PHYSICS 100: Introductory Physics.

           Contents

1. Enrollment and Performance in UBC Physics Courses

2. Enrollment and Performance in UBC Physics Courses by Gender

3. Comparison of Achievements by Region and School Type

4. Comparison of Achievements by School

5.  Distribution of Students by Course Profile

6.  Summary and Implications

7.  Contact
 





Enrollment and performance in UBC First Year Physics courses (Term I)

(ONLY includes students from the 2000 graduating classes of BC high schools &
with Physics12 or Physics11 requirement provided)

Table IA (Physics 12 requirement)
UBC
Physics 
Course
Number of students
Percentage passing
Percentage with
A standing
Average school mark ®
Average UBC mark
Math 12
av. mark
101
604
97
37
85 ® 75
90
121
70
96
54
90 ® 79 
92
153
377
98
45
90 ® 76
91
ALL
1051
97
41
87 ® 75 
91

Table IB (Physics 11 requirement)

UBC
Physics 
Course
Number of students
Percentage passing
Percentage with
A standing
Average school mark ®
Average UBC mark
Math 12
av. mark
100
385
95
38
83 ® 75
85

                              Graph I A-B: Distribution of marks in UBC and high-school physics courses

Note: The clustered box plots offer summaries of values for separate variables. Each box contains 50% of cases and the line across the box indicates the median. The whiskers are lines that extend from the box to the highest and lowest values, excluding the outliers (cases with values between 1.5 and 3 box lengths from the upper or lower edge of the box) and extremes (values more than 3 box lengths from the box).
 
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Enrollment and performance in UBC Physics courses by gender

(ONLY includes students from the 2000 graduating classes of BC high schools &
with Physics12 or Physics11 grades provided)

Table IC
UBC
Physics 
Course
Gender
Number of students
Percentage passing
Percentage with A
standing
Average school mark ®
Average UBC mark
Math 12
av. mark
100
male
91
90
45
84 ® 74
86
 
female
294
97
36
83 ® 75
85
101
male
300
97
36
85 ® 74
89
 
female
304
97
39
86 ® 75
90
121
male
52
96
52
90 ® 80
92
 
female
18
94
61
91 ® 79
92
153
male
307
97
45
90 ® 76
91
 
female
70
100
46
88 ® 76
92

  Graph IC

Note: There is no significant difference between male and female studentsí performance in the Physics courses. However, gender is a factor that introduces a significant difference in course participation for PHYS 100 (ratio M:F about 1:3), PHYS 121 (ratio M:F about 3:1) and PHYS 153 (ratio M:F about 4:1).
 
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Comparison of achievements by region and school type

(includes ONLY students from the graduating class of 2000 in BC high schools &
with Physics12 or Physics11 requirement)

Table II compares results by region and school type, cumulating data for courses with Physics 12 requirement, i. e. PHYS 101, PHYS 121, PHYS 153, currently included in Group A. The B.C. schools identified by region are public schools. Private and Catholic schools from all over the province form two separate groups. Vancouver schools are grouped by Vancouver east and Vancouver west. Suburban Vancouver includes Burnaby, Langley, New Westminster, Maple Ridge, Surrey, Coquitlam, Delta, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, and Richmond school districts. Vancouver Island, B. C. Interior schools and students from other provinces are grouped separately. Only regions with at least 25 students in UBC physics courses from Group A are "ranked".

Ranking procedure

The "ranking" is based ONLY on studentsí participation in Group "A" UBC courses (courses with Physics 12 requirement: PHYS 101, PHYS 121, PHYS 153).

The ranking score is determined by equally weighing ranks in these categories:

a) % passing in these courses

b) % with A standing (A-, A, A+) in these courses

c) the relative change of average grades in high school vs. UBC Physics courses.

High values of % passing, % with A standing, as well as small variation in grades would contribute to higher ranks. Regions or schools are first ranked in each category (a-c) and then a total rank is computed.

Tables also show the % of students in Group A courses vs. the total number of students in UBC physics courses, as well as Math 12 average grades. This data is not considered in ranking, but provides additional information about high school studentsí preparedness in physics and mathematics.

Table II - all courses with Physics 12 requirement (Group A)
(the total number of students in this sample is given in brackets)


School Type or Region "ranking"
No. of Students in Group A courses
(total no. studs)
%
Passing
% with A
Standing
Avg. school mark ®
Avg. UBC mark
 
Math 12 av. mark
% stud in Group A 
courses
1. Burnaby 
71 (100)
99
48
86 ® 77
 
91
71
2. Vancouver west 
153 (220)
98
48
87 ® 77 
 
90
70
3. North Vancouver
37 (60)
100
45
86 ® 77 
 
92
62
4. Vancouver east 
103 (138)
96
47
86 ® 77 
 
90
75
5. Richmond 
127 (173)
96
45
87 ® 77 
 
92
73
6. Catholic
28 (42)
100
36
87 ® 74 
 
88
67
7. B. C. Interior
100 (143)
98
41
89 ® 75 
 
91
70
8. Private
39 (50)
98
33
86 ® 75 
 
91
78
9. Surrey 
67 (107)
97
33
89 ® 74 
 
92
63
10. Delta
49 (64)
96
33
88 ® 73 
 
89
77
11. Coquitlam 
75 (93)
96
29
89 ® 72 
 
91
81
12.Vancouver Island 
43 (55)
95
26
88 ® 72 
 
90
78

Ontario
20 (29)
100
40
84 ® 78 
 
86
69
Alberta
11 (13)
82
27
83 ® 72
 
87
85

 
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School-by-school results

The school-by-school Tables (III, IV, V) include ranking of schools with at least 10 students in UBC physics courses with the Physics 12 requirement (PHYS 101, PHYS 121, PHYS 153) in September 2000. Results are organized in three tables: Vancouver schools, Suburban Vancouver schools and B. C. schools outside Metropolitan Vancouver. Schools outside Metropolitan Vancouver (Table V) are not ranked, since the number of students was too small (results given in alphabetical order).

Ranking procedure

The "ranking" is based ONLY on studentsí participation in Group "A" UBC courses (courses with Physics 12 requirement: PHYS 101, PHYS 121, PHYS 153).

The ranking score is determined by equally weighing ranks in these categories:

a) % passing in these courses

b) % with A standing (A-, A, A+) ) in these courses

c) the relative change of average grades in high school vs. UBC Physics courses.

High values of % passing, % with A standing, as well as small variation in grades would contribute to higher ranks. Regions or schools are first ranked in each category (a-c) and then a total rank is computed.

Tables also show the % of students in Group A courses vs. total number of students in UBC physics courses, as well as Math 12 average grades. This data is not considered in ranking, but provides additional information about high school studentsí preparedness in physics and mathematics.

Vancouver Schools

Table III - all courses with Physics 12 requirement: PHYS 101, PHYS 121, PHYS 153
(total number of students in UBC Phys courses is given in brackets)


School 
"ranking"
No. of Students in Group A courses
(total no. studs)
%
Passing
% with A
Standing
Avg. school mark ®
Avg. UBC mark
 
Math 12
av. mark
% stud in 
Group A 
Phys courses
1. Killarney 
25 (28)
100
56
85 ® 79 
 
88
89
2. David Thompson
19 (25)
95
58
86 ® 82 
 
91
76
3. Gladstone
10 (17)
100
60
90 ®79 
 
89
59
4. Prince of Wales
26 (34)
100
54
87 ® 80 
 
91
76
5.Sir Winston Churchill
34 (43)
97
53
84 ® 77
 
89
79
6. Kitsilano
10 (18)
100
50
92 ®83 
 
93
56
7. University Hill
16 (26)
100
50
88 ® 78 
 
92
62
8. Eric Hamber
18 (29)
100
44
84 ® 78
 
90
62
9.Vancouver College 
11 (13)
100
45
87 ® 77
 
89
85
10. Point Grey
23 (31)
96
48
89 ® 77 
 
92
74
11. Vancouver Tech
15 (19)
93
13
81 ® 73
 
90
79
12. Lord Byng
15 (20)
93
40
89 ® 72
 
88
75

 

Suburban Vancouver Schools

Table IV - all courses with Physics 12 requirement : PHYS 101, PHYS 121, PHYS 153
(total number of students in UBC Phys courses is given in brackets)


School
"ranking"
No. of Students in Group A courses
(total no. studs)
%
Passing
% with A
Standing
Avg. school mark ®
Avg. UBC mark
 
Math 12
av. mark
% stud in Group A 
Phys courses
1. R.C. Palmer
14 (20)
100
64
89 ® 80
 
90
70
2. Handsworth Sec
11 (16)
100
64
89 ®80 
 
92
69
3. Hugh Boyd Sec
10 (15)
100
50
86 ® 80
 
94
67
4. Charles London
15 (25)
100
60
90 ® 80
 
93
60
5. Burnaby North
25 (28)
100
56
86 ® 78
 
91
89
6. Sentinel Sec
10 (14)
100
50
89 ® 79 
 
92
71
7. Cambie Sec
10 (14)
100
40
83 ® 76
 
92
71
8. Richmond Sec
13 (17)
100
38
82 ® 75
 
90
76
9. Seaquam
14 (20)
100
50
87 ®77 
 
94
70
10. Port Moody Sec
10 (16)
100
50
89 ® 77
 
92
63
11. Steveston Sec
29 (34)
97
52
90 ® 77
 
94
85
12. Burnaby South
22 (30)
95
45
85 ® 75
 
91
73
13. Pinetree Sec
10 (10)
100
50
89 ® 76 
 
91
100
14. Semiahmoo 
10 (12)
100
40
89 ® 76 
 
92
83
15. New Westminster
11 (13)
100
36
92 ® 74 
 
93
85
16. Brookswood Sec
10 (11)
100
30
88 ® 73
 
88
91
17. West Vancouver
12 (16)
92
33
84 ® 72
 
87
75
18. Delta Senior Sec
11 (14)
100
27
87 ®70 
 
83
79
19. North Delta
18 (20)
94
28
90 ® 72 
 
88
90
20. J. N. Burnett Sec
22 (25)
95
18
87 ® 71
 
92
88
21. Gleneagle Sec
13 (18)
100
0
87 ® 65
 
90
72
22. Centennial
27 (30)
93
19
90 ® 71 
 
91
90

 

B.C. Schools outside Metropolitan Vancouver

Table V - all courses with Physics 12 requirement (alphabetical order)
(total number of students in UBC Phys courses is given in brackets)

School 
No. of Students in Group A courses 
%
Passing
% with A
Standing
Avg. school mark ®
Avg. UBC mark
 
Math 12
av. mark
% stud in Group A 
Phys courses
Abbotsford Sr. Sec
7 (7)
100
71
95 ®88 
 
99
100
Dover Bay
5 (7)
100
20
90 ®72 
 
93
71
Kelowna Sec
6 (6)
100
33
93 ®69 
 
93
100
Timberline Sec
5 (5)
80
0
91 ® 64
 
88
100

 
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Distribution of Students by Course Profile and Region

(PHYS 100, PHYS101&121, PHYS153)

For the purpose of this analysis, the First Year Physics courses are grouped into three profiles:

Graphs II (A-C) show the number of students enrolled in each profile by (a) region (minimum 40 students enrolled in UBC physics courses), (b) Vancouver schools (minimum 15 students) and (c) Suburban schools (minimum 20 students).

Graphs IIA: Distribution of students by course profile and region


 
Distribution of Students by Course Profile and School

Graph IIB: Vancouver Schools


Graph IIC: Suburban Vancouver Schools


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Summary and Implications

Significance of the Study

This report gives an overview of studentsí enrollment and performance in UBC First Year Physics courses. The sample used in this report is represented by high school graduates from the Class of 2000 accepted in UBC first term physics courses on the basis of high school pre-requisites (Mathematics 12, as well as Physics 12 or Physics 11 depending on the UBC physics course). This is the most common route for students to get into first year physics courses, a route that includes about 67% of the total student population in the first year & first term physics courses. Therefore, the conclusions of this study would reveal issues on physics instruction related to the transition from school to university.

Enrollment Issues

First year physics courses can be grouped into three profiles, each with specific student enrollments (Tables IA-B):

Comments regarding enrollment:

a) the gender distribution pattern for each course (Table IC):

PHYS 100, the preparatory course, has a 76% female student enrollment, which suggests a deficiency in high school science orientation for girls.

PHYS 101, a regular course, is balanced with respect to gender distribution.

PHYS 121, an Honours course, has only 26% female students, which suggests an inadequate effort by both school and university in attracting women toward more challenging courses.

PHYS 153, an applied course, has less than 19% female students.

b) course profile patterns by region and school (Graphs II)

Overall, student average enrollment in preparatory : general : applied physics courses profiles follows the ratio 27% : 47% : 26%.

This pattern is valid for almost all regions, Richmond being the most typical. However, some regions, like Coquitlam and Delta present a significant larger enrollment in applied courses, while Catholic schools show a balanced enrollment over all three profiles.

For the Vancouver schools (with more than 15 students in UBC physics courses), one can distinguish the following untypical patterns:
- a significantly larger proportion of students in PHYS 100 for schools like Eric Hamber, Gladstone and Kitsilano;
- a significantly larger proportion of students in applied courses (i. e. more than in general courses) for schools like Prince of Wales and University Hill.

For the Suburban schools (with more than 20 students in UBC physics courses), one can distinguish the following untypical patterns:
- a significantly larger proportion of students in PHYS 100 for schools like Charles London;
- a significantly lower proportion of students in PHYS 100 for schools like Burnaby North, Centennial, North Delta and Steveston.
- comparable number of students in PHYS 100 and general courses, but more students in applied courses for schools like R. C. Palmer and Sequam.

Performance Issues

All UBC physics courses have a large percentage of passing students: about 97%.

The average percentage of students with A standing is about 40%. PHYS 121 and PHYS 153 present higher % with A standing: 54% and 45%, respectively. Except for PHYS 100, more female than male students get A standing.

Studentsí grades in UBC physics courses are consistently lower than their corresponding grades in Physics 12 or Physics 11. The relative change is about 10-12%. There is no significant gender or course difference regarding this drop in grades.

PHYS 121 is the most homogeneous group with respect to both high school and university achievements, followed by PHYS 153 and PHYS 101.

In any of these four courses, there is no significant difference in performance by gender.

The school-by-school performance in UBC physics courses was measured by:

Implications for practice

Issues related to the observed gender differences in enrollment & school differences in enrollment and performance can be better addressed by enhancing school-university liaison and creating links with all B. C. high schools. This implies a common effort by university and high schools.

Seemingly, high school students need to be better informed about university physics instruction, post-secondary educational paths in science, physics-related career options, as well as successful efforts by university to create an inclusive instructional environment for all students.
 

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Contact

For more information on the report, or if you have any comments, please contact:
Dr. Tom Tiedje at tiedje@physics.ubc.ca
Dr. Maria Trache at mtrache@physics.ubc.ca



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