Teaching physics for non-Science Majors with Hewitt's Conceptual Physics


  • Rosea L. van den Berg-Aguilar Science and Mathematics Education Institute, University of San Carlos
  • Ed van den Berg Science and Mathematics Education Institute, University of San Carlos


In spite of an ambitious curriculum, High School Physics in the Philippines is often limited to the teaching of mechanics plus at most a tiny bit of heat and temperature and electricity or waves. Then many first or second year College Physics courses also emphasize mechanics to the exclusion of other topics. Teaching and testing often overemphasize computations and lack conceptual depth as well as links with everyday phenomena and technology. However, college physics teachers are quite overloaded and more often than not they are not physics majors. Only a few universities have been able to recruit real physics majors as instructors. How then can courses be made attractive?
We decided to base our teaching on an exciting book: Paul G. Hewitt's Conceptual Physics. Hewitt's book stands out in providing clear explanations using everyday language and linking with phenomena in the students' environment. Students find the book very interesting. The one semester Physics course uses only a few chapters: Atomic Nature of Matter, Color, Light, Sound, Electricity and some Modern Physics. Dependent on the kind of students one can select a different combination of chapters. Most students do not have a copy of the book, but use photocopied chapters (their own responsibility). Those who do own a copy, enjoy reading it on their own.
The presentation will describe the course and its development, show some of the experiments used, and will then evolve into a general discussion with the audience of the purpose and teaching methods of physics courses for non-majors.




How to Cite

RL van den Berg-Aguilar and E van den Berg, Teaching physics for non-Science Majors with Hewitt’s Conceptual Physics, Proceedings of the Samahang Pisika ng Pilipinas 15, SPP-1997-ED-08 (1997). URL: https://proceedings.spp-online.org/article/view/SPP-1997-ED-08.