B.A. in Physics Areas of Study

WGU Bachelor of Arts in Science (5–12, Physics)

The Bachelor of Arts in Science (5-12, Physics) is a competency-based degree program that prepares students to be licensed as physics teachers in grades 5-12. All work in this degree program is online with the exception of the Demonstration Teaching and in-classroom field experience components, which prepare teacher candidates for the classroom. Candidates develop and refine their teaching skills through a series of sequential experiences beginning with video-based observations of classroom instruction. Observations prepare candidates for an authentic, collaborative preclinical teaching experiences in K-12 settings. Clinical experiences culminate with supervised demonstration teaching in a real classroom.The program consists of work in General Education, Foundations of Teaching, General Science Content, Mathematics Content, Physics Content, Pedagogy, Science Education, Field Experience, and Demonstration Teaching.

Foundations of Teaching

Foundational Perspectives of Education
This course provides an introduction to the historical, legal, and philosophical foundations of education. Current educational trends, reform movements, major federal and state laws, legal and ethical responsibilities, and an overview of standards-based curriculum are the focus of the course. The course of study presents a discussion of changes and challenges in contemporary education. It covers the diversity found in American schools, introduces emerging educational technology trends, and provides an overview of contemporary topics in education.

Psychology for Educators
This course prepares candidates to meet the expectations of society and prepares future educators to support classroom practice with research-validated concepts. The course helps future educators to create a framework for refining teaching skills that are focused on the learner, through engaged inquiry of integrating theory, critical issues in psychology, classroom applications with diverse populations, assessment, educational technology, and reflective teaching.

Fundamentals of Diversity, Inclusion, and Exceptional Learners
Students will learn the history of inclusion and develop practical strategies for modifying instruction, in accordance with legal expectations, to meet the needs of a diverse population of learners. This population includes learners with disabilities, gifted and talented learners, culturally diverse learners, and English language learners.

Classroom Management, Engagement, and Motivation
Students will learn the foundations for effective classroom management as well as strategies for creating a safe, positive learning environment for all learners. Students will be introduced to systems that promote student self-awareness, self-management, self-efficacy, and self-esteem. In this course, students will engage practical application via 10 hours of video classroom observations. Students will reflect on how teachers use rules/procedures to maximize student learning and on what makes a highly effective classroom environment. As part of a culminating experience in this course, students will, through the video observation reflections, describe their current teaching philosophy related to classroom environment and management.

Educational Assessment
Educational Assessment assists students in making appropriate data-driven instructional decisions by exploring key concepts relevant to the administration, scoring, and interpretation of classroom assessments. Topics include ethical assessment practices, designing assessments, aligning assessments, and utilizing technology for assessment.

General Education

English Composition I
English Composition I introduces learners to the types of writing and thinking that are valued in college and beyond. Students will practice writing in several genres with emphasis placed on writing and revising academic arguments. Instruction and exercises in grammar, mechanics, research documentation, and style are paired with each module so that writers can practice these skills as necessary. Comp I is a foundational course designed to help students prepare for success at the college level. There are no prerequisites for English Composition I.

English Composition II
English Composition II introduces undergraduate students to research writing. It is a foundational course designed to help students prepare for advanced writing within the discipline and to complete the capstone. Specifically, this course will help students develop or improve research, reference citation, document organization, and writing skills. English Composition I or equivalent is a prerequisite for this course.

Human Growth and Development Across the Lifespan
This course introduces students to human development across the lifespan. This will include an introductory survey of cognitive, psychological, and physical growth. Students will gain an understanding in regards to the emergence of personality, identity, gender and sexuality, social relationships, emotion, language, and moral development through life. This will include milestones such as education, achievement, work, dying, and death.

Introduction to Communication
This introductory communication course allows students to become familiar with the fundamental communication theories and practices necessary to engage in healthy professional and personal relationships. Students will survey human communication on multiple levels and critically apply the theoretical grounding of the course to interpersonal, intercultural, small group, and public presentational contexts. The course also encourages students to consider the influence of language, perception, culture, and media on their daily communicative interactions. In addition to theory, students will engage in the application of effective communication skills through systematically preparing and delivering an oral presentation. By practicing these fundamental skills in human communication, students become more competent communicators as they develop more flexible, useful, and discriminatory communicative practices in a variety of contexts.

Survey of United States History
This course presents a broad and thematic survey of U.S. history from European colonization to the mid-twentieth century. Students will explore how historical events and major themes in American history have affected a diverse population.

Introduction to Humanities
This introductory humanities course allows students to practice essential writing, communication, and critical thinking skills necessary to engage in civic and professional interactions as mature, informed adults. Whether through studying literature, visual and performing arts, or philosophy, all humanities courses stress the need to form reasoned, analytical, and articulate responses to cultural and creative works. Studying a wide variety of creative works allows students to more effectively enter the global community with a broad and enlightened perspective.

General Science Content

Introduction to Biology
This course is a foundational introduction to the biological sciences. The overarching theories of life from biological research are explored as well as the fundamental concepts and principles of the study of living organisms and their interaction with the environment. Key concepts include how living organisms use and produce energy; how life grows, develops, and reproduces; how life responds to the environment to maintain internal stability; and how life evolves and adapts to the environment.

Integrated Physical Sciences
This course provides students with an overview of the basic principles and unifying ideas of the physical sciences: physics, chemistry, and Earth sciences. Course materials focus on scientific reasoning and practical and everyday applications of physical science concepts to help students integrate conceptual knowledge with practical skills.

Natural Science Lab
This course gives you an introduction to using the scientific method and engaging in scientific research to reach conclusions about the natural world. You will design and carry out an experiment to investigate a hypothesis by gathering quantitative data.

General Chemistry I
Chemistry is the study of matter. Everything you see and many of the things you don’t see are made up of atoms. By understanding these atoms and their interactions, chemists have been able to cure disease, travel to the moon, and feed a growing world. By understanding chemistry, you will find your own world expanded. You will find boiling water interesting and the back of the shampoo bottle fascinating. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has published principles and standards that address important chemistry topics that should be covered through the K-12 curriculum. Many states have followed the NSTA’s lead and are increasingly requiring that these concepts be taught to the students throughout the course of their science education. A firm grasp of the concepts covered in this course will allow you to confidently teach this material when you enter the classroom.

General Chemistry Laboratory I
In this course students will attain a solid understanding of fundamental chemistry concepts and a reasonable ability to solve chemical problems. Topics include measurement, elements and compounds, properties of matter and energy, the periodic table and chemical nomenclature, quantities in chemistry, chemical reactions, the modern atomic theory, and the chemical bond. Laboratory work focuses on using effective laboratory techniques to examine the physical and chemical characteristics of matter.

Mathematics Content

Trigonometry and Precalculus
Trigonometry and Precalculus covers the knowledge and skills necessary to apply trigonometry, complex numbers, systems of equations, vectors and matrices, sequence and series, and to use appropriate technology to model and solve real-life problems. Topics include degrees; radians and arcs; reference angles and right triangle trigonometry; applying, graphing and transforming trigonometric functions and their inverses; solving trigonometric equations; using and proving trigonometric identities; geometric, rectangular, and polar approaches to complex numbers; DeMoivre's Theorem; systems of linear equations and matrix-vector equations; systems of nonlinear equations; systems of inequalities; and arithmetic and geometric sequences and series. College Algebra is a prerequisite for this course.

Calculus I
Calculus I is the study of rates of change in relation to the slope of a curve and covers the knowledge and skills necessary to use differential calculus of one variable and appropriate technology to solve basic problems. Topics include graphing functions and finding their domains and ranges; limits, continuity, differentiability, visual, analytical, and conceptual approaches to the definition of the derivative; the power, chain, and sum rules applied to polynomial and exponential functions, position and velocity; and L'Hopital's Rule. Candidates should have completed a course in Pre-Calculus before engaging in this course.

Calculus II
Calculus II is the study of the accumulation of change in relation to the area under a curve. It covers the knowledge and skills necessary to apply integral calculus of one variable and to use appropriate technology to model and solve real-life problems. Topics include antiderivatives; indefinite integrals; the substitution rule; Riemann sums; the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus; definite integrals; acceleration, velocity, position, and initial values; integration by parts; integration by trigonometric substitution; integration by partial fractions; numerical integration; improper integration; area between curves; volumes and surface areas of revolution; arc length; work; center of mass; separable differential equations; direction fields; growth and decay problems; and sequences. Calculus I is a prerequisite for this course.

Physics Content

Conceptual Physics
Conceptual Physics provides a broad, conceptual overview of the main principles of physics, including mechanics, thermodynamics, wave motion, modern physics, and electricity and magnetism. Problem-solving activities and laboratory experiments provide students with opportunities to apply these main principles, creating a strong foundation for future studies in physics. There are no prerequisites for this course.

Physics: Mechanics
Physics: Mechanics introduces foundational concepts of mechanics, including motion, gravitation, work and energy, momentum and collisions, rotational motion, static equilibrium, fluids, and oscillation.

Physics: Waves and Optics
Physics: Waves and Optics addresses foundational topics in the physics of waves and optics. Students will study basic wave motion and then apply that knowledge to the study of sound and light with even further applications to optical instruments. They will also learn about thermodynamics and theories governing the physics of gases.

Physics: Electricity and Magnetism
Physics: Electricity and Magnetism addresses principles related to the physics of electricity and magnetism. Students will study electric and magnetic forces and then apply that knowledge to the study of circuits with resistors and electromagnetic induction and waves, focusing on such topics as: Electric charge and electric field, electric currents and resistance, magnetism, electromagnetic induction and Faraday's law, and Maxwell's equation and electromagnetic waves.

Space, Time and Motion
Throughout history, humans have grappled with questions about the origin, workings, and behavior of the universe. This seminar begins with a quick tour of discovery and exploration in physics, from the ancient Greek philosophers on to Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. Einstein’s work then serves as the departure point for a detailed look at the properties of motion, time, space, matter, and energy. The course considers Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, his photon hypothesis, wave-particle duality, his General Theory of Relativity and its implications for astrophysics and cosmology, as well as his three-decade quest for a unified field theory. It also looks at Einstein as a social and political figure, and his contributions as a social and political force. Scientist-authored essays, online interaction, videos, and web resources enable learners to trace this historic path of discovery and explore implications of technology for society, energy production in stars, black holes, the Big Bang and the role of the scientist in modern society.

Physics: Content Knowledge
Physics: Content Knowledge covers the advanced content knowledge that a secondary physics teacher is expected to know and understand. Topics include mechanics, electricity and magnetism, optics and waves, heat and thermodynamics, modern physics, atomic and nuclear structure, the history and nature of science, science technology, and social perspectives.

Science Education

Science, Technology, and Society
Science, Technology, and Society explores the ways in which science influences and is influenced by society and technology. A humanistic and social endeavor, science serves the needs of ever-changing societies by providing methods for observing, questioning, discovering, and communicating information about the physical and natural world. This course prepares educators to explain the nature and history of science, the various applications of science, and the scientific and engineering processes used to conduct investigations, make decisions, and solve problems. There are no prerequisites for this course.

Science Methods
Science Methods provides undergraduate students seeking initial licensure or endorsement in the sciences for grades 5-12 with an introduction to science teaching methods and laboratory safety training. Course content focuses on designing and teaching with the three dimensions of science: disciplinary core ideas, crosscutting concepts, and science and engineering practices. Laboratory safety training and certification will include the proper use of personal protective equipment and safe laboratory practices and procedures in science classrooms. This course has no prerequisites.


Introduction to Instructional Planning and Presentation
Students will develop a basic understanding of effective instructional principles and how to differentiate instruction in order to elicit powerful teaching in the classroom.

Secondary Reading Instruction and Interventions
Secondary Reading Instruction and Intervention explores the comprehensive, student-centered Response to Intervention (RTI) assessment and intervention model used to identify and address the needs of learners in grades 5–12 who struggle with reading comprehension and/or information retention. Course content provides educators with effective strategies designed to scaffold instruction and help learners develop increased skill in the following areas: reading, vocabulary, text structures and genres, and logical reasoning related to the academic disciplines. This course has no prerequisites.

Instructional Planning and Presentation in Science
Students will continue to build instructional planning skills with a focus on selecting appropriate materials for diverse learners, selecting age- and ability- appropriate strategies for the content areas, promoting critical thinking, and establishing both short- and long- term goals.

Secondary Disciplinary Literacy
Secondary Disciplinary Literacy examines teaching strategies designed to help learners in grades 5-12 improve upon the literacy skills required to read, write, and think critically while engaging content in different academic disciplines. Themes include exploring how language structures, text features, vocabulary, and context influence reading comprehension across the curriculum. Course content highlights strategies and tools designed to help teachers assess the reading comprehension and writing proficiency of learners and provides strategies to support students' reading and writing success in all curriculum areas. This course has no prerequisites.

Field Experience

Preclinical Experiences in Science
Preclinical Experiences in Science provides students the opportunity to observe and participate in a wide range of in-classroom teaching experiences in order to develop the skills and confidence necessary to be an effective teacher. Students will document and reflect upon at least 75 hours of authentic in-classroom experiences, and an early evaluation of teaching will occur to provide feedback and suggestions for continued professional development. Prior to entering the classroom for the observations, students will be required to meet several requirements including a cleared background check, passing scores on the state or WGU required basic skills exam and a completed resume. This course is aligned to the InTASC model core teaching standards.

Demonstration Teaching

Supervised Demonstration Teaching in Science
Supervised Demonstration Teaching in Science involves a series of classroom performance observations by the host teacher and clinical supervisor that develop comprehensive performance data about the teacher candidate’s skills.

Teacher Performance Assessment in Science
The Teacher Performance Assessment is a culmination of the wide variety of skills learned during your time in the Teachers College at WGU. In order to be a competent and independent classroom teacher, you will showcase a collection of your content, planning, instructional, and reflective skills in this professional assessment.

Professional Portfolio
You will create an online teaching portfolio that includes professional artifacts and evidence of practice that demonstrate the skills you developed and refined throughout your Demonstration Teaching Experience. This course is aligned to the InTASC model core teaching standards.

Cohort Seminar
Cohort Seminar provides mentoring and supports teacher candidates during their demonstration teaching period by providing weekly collaboration and instruction related to the demonstration teaching experience. It facilitates their demonstration of competence in becoming reflective practitioners, adhering to ethical standards, practicing inclusion in a diverse classroom, exploring community resources, building collegial and collaborative relationships with teachers, and considering leadership and supervisory skills.

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