Physics Education Research Conference (PERC)

August 7-8, 2002 - Boise, ID

Poster Session Abstracts (updated 7/10/02)

Factors Influencing Sense-Making Discussions during Group Investigations of Force/Motion, Cody Sandifer, Towson University,

This study investigated small-group discussions in an inquiry-based middle school science classroom. The purpose of the study was to determine the group and individual factors that provide support for students' sense-making discussions. To do this, two groups were videotaped during the Interactions and Motion unit from the Constructing Ideas in Physical Science curriculum. A six-component framework for sense-making discussion was used for analysis: predicting; clarifying facts; describing and explaining a phenomenon or experimental result; defining, describing, clarifying, and connecting scientific concepts, procedures, processes, and representations; testing knowledge compatibility; and making requests for any of the above. Analysis revealed that there were differences across groups and individual students in terms of their distributions of sense-making instances. Differences across groups are explained in terms of group obligations and expectations, collaboration, and leadership. Differences across students are explained in terms of learning and social goals, science interest, work preferences, and ability.

How Students Learn Problem-Solving: An Initial Model of Instructors' Beliefs*, Charles Henderson, University of Minnesota,
Pat Heller, Vince Kuo, Edit Yerushalmi

The Physics Education Research Group at the University of Minnesota has developed an interview tool to understand how physics instructors think about the teaching and learning of problem solving in introductory calculus-based physics. In the first phase of this three-phase research program, we have generated an initial model of instructor thinking based on interviews with 6 Research University instructors. As part of this model, we identified 3 qualitatively different ways that these instructors think students can learn how to solve physics problems. This first talk will describe these views of student learning. *Supported in part by NSF grant #DUE-9972470

Preparing Future Teachers Through a Case Studies Approach, Michael Jabot, Ph.D., State University of New York at Fredonia,

Case studies are stories with an educational message. They have been used as parables and cautionary tales for centuries, yet their formal use in the science classroom is recent. This paper will present how a Case Studies approach can bridge the gap between PER-based reform and the pedagogical content development of teachers in physics.

Analyzing students’ use of metacognition during laboratory activities, Rebecca F Lippmann, University of Maryland,
University of Maryland Physics Education Research Group

In this paper we use a discourse analysis tool to investigate student behavior in different types of laboratories, from more traditional to free inquiry labs. We also correlate students’ behavior with their explicit metacognitive statements, which allows us to differentiate between productive and unproductive metacognition.

Helping Students Learn Problem-Solving – An Initial Model of Instructors’ Beliefs*, Vince H. Kuo, University of Minnesota,
Kenneth Heller, Patricia Heller, Charles Henderson, and Edit Yerushalmi

The Physics Education Research Group at the University of Minnesota has generated an initial model of instructors’ views about the teaching and learning of problem solving in introductory calculus-based physics. This poster will focus on the part of the model dealing with the teaching activities that instructors think help students learn to solve physics problems. These teaching activities can be divided into three basic categories: setting constraints, making suggestions, and providing resources. We will relate these beliefs about teaching to the beliefs about student learning as discussed in the poster titled "How Students Learn Problem-Solving – An Initial Model of Instructors’ Beliefs".

*Supported in part by NSF grant #DUE-9972470

Students’ Mental Models and Their Applications: Newton’s Second Law in Electricity and Magnetism*, Salomon Itza-Ortiz, Kansas State University,
N. Sanjay Rebello

We investigated students’ mental models using Newton’s second law in contexts encountered in electricity and magnetism. We interviewed sixteen students in a second semester course of calculus-based physics. We compared student’s mental models with those that they used on the first semester of the course; in mechanics contexts. Our study also provides some insights into students’ transfer learning from mechanics to electricity and magnetism. We will describe the methodology and results of our study. *Supported in part by NSF grant # REC 008788

Student Reaction to an Innovative way of Teaching Physics*, Alice D. Churukian, Kansas State University,
Christopher M. Sorensen, Dean A. Zollman

At Kansas State University we have altered our calculus-based physics course to create the New Studio format for teaching fundamental physics to large undergraduate classes. This format retains the large lecture component but combines recitation and laboratory instruction into the New Studio. How the students have responded to this change to hands-on, inquiry-based teaching will be discussed. *Supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation under grant DUE 9972502, This paper was presented at 8:45 AM on Monday, 5 August, during Session AA.

CAPA (Computer-Assisted Personalized Assignments): The Truth Behind the Student Nickname CRAPA, Andrea M Pascarella, University of Northern Iowa,

Valerie K. Otereo

A systematic, qualitative research study of the online homework system CAPA (Computer-Assisted Personalized Assignments) was carried out in the calculus-based introductory physics course at the University of Colorado, Boulder during the fall 2001 semester (N=515). The students were split into two groups. One group was initially assigned to CAPA; the other group was assigned to traditional homework. At mid-semester the groups switched homework types. This study looked at the effects that students' epistemological beliefs had on their opinions and attitudes towards both kinds of homework. Students with non-expert-like epistemologies felt that CAPA was a better learning tool while students with expert-like epistemologies believed that traditional homework was a better learning tool. In addition, problem solving interviews were conducted weekly with 9 students. From the analysis of this data a problem solving characterization of students using CAPA and traditional homework was inferred. These characterizations may imply that CAPA hinders metacognitive behaviors.

Student Resources in quantum mehcanics, or Why students need meta resources.,Keith Oliver, the Ohio State University,
Lei Bao

We are trying to identify resources students are using to reason in quantum mechanics. In this process we realize student must have not only the right resources avaliable but sophisticated resources for evaluating and controlling their thought processes. We will discuss examples from student interviews to illustrate our point.

What Problems Would I Assign? An Analysis of Student-Generated Problems, Kathleen Andre Harper, The Ohio State University,
Eugenia Etkina, Xueli Zou

As part of the Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE), students submit weekly reports in which they answer three standard questions each week.1 Recently, we have started examining the student responses to the question, "If I were the instructor, what questions would I ask or problems assign to determine if my students understood the material?" This analysis includes the relevance of the problems to the week’s material, whether the problems are solvable, and the type of problems (conceptual or calculation-based). Additionally, some student-generated problems indicate fundamental misunderstandings of basic physical concepts. Preliminary results indicate possible links between some characteristics of the problems and conceptual achievement. A summary of the current findings of this research will be presented, along with its relationship to previous work concerning problem posing.2 1Etkina, E. "Weekly Reports—A Two-Way Feedback Tool," Science Education, 84, 594-605 (2000). 2Mestre, J.P., "Probing Adults’ Conceptual Understanding and Transfer of Learning Via Problem Posing," Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 23, 9-50 (2002).

An Interactive Lecture Demonstration for Simple Harmonic Motion, Jeff Marx, McDaniel College,

A well-designed Interactive Lecture Demonstration (ILD) can effectively correct students’ misguided notions about the workings of the physical world. By demanding a commitment to a particular point of view through prediction and discussion, ILDs force students to form a serious intellectual attachment to their response. Thus, wrong predictions rear up forcefully, and resolution becomes nearly unavoidable. By carefully directing students’ predictions toward the most common and potentially misleading notions, one can create a potent ILD. I have developed and field-tested an ILD intended for a general science audience. Specifically, I have used this ILD for four semesters in my course Sound, Music and Hearing. Most of the twenty or so students I teach each term are non-science majors looking to fulfill a graduation requirement. I designed this ILD to serve three purposes. First, it addresses misconceptions and difficulties students have with fundamental concepts related to the simple harmonic motion executed by a mass hanging on a spring. Second, it serves as a touchstone for related, and sometimes more complex, phenomena we encounter later in the semester. Finally, this ILD offers me the opportunity to introduce or reinforce important concepts and terminology related to vibrations such as period, frequency, amplitude, and spring constant.

Effectiveness of group interaction on performance on conceptual standardized tests, Chandralekha Singh, University of Pittsburgh,

We analyze the effectiveness of pair-interaction on Force Concept Inventory and Electricity and Magnetism Conceptual Survey in a calculus-based introductory physics course. In double class periods, students were administered each test individually and in groups of two in two consecutive semesters. Students were encouraged to discuss the response with each other and each test counted for one quiz grade. Students had additional incentive to discuss the concepts because an examination in two week covered the same material. We also discussed the rationale behind their responses individually with some students. Findings will be discussed.

TEAL/Studio Physics at MIT, Sen-Ben Liao, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Peter Dourmashkin, John W. Belcher

The Physics Department at MIT has introduced a new format for teaching introductory mechanics and electromagnetism. In the TEAL(Technology Enabled Active Learning) approach, lectures, recitations, and hands-on laboratory experience are merged into a technologically and collaboratively rich experience. The class involves interactive instruction, visualization software, cooperative learning as well as hands-on experiments. Traditionally the courses (especially electromagnetism) have been a challenge for beginning students because of the number of abstract ideas involved. The various computer animations and Java applets are designed to help students overcome the abstractness. The desktop experiments that are linked to the course material will further reinforce the topics discussed in class. We shall show how, with the aid of modern computer and visualization technology, a more stimulating environment can be created, making learning more fun and effective.

LAAPhysics & Online Learning Tools, Gerald W. Meisner, UNCGreensboro,
Harol Hoffman, Mike Turner

We are beginning to beta test LAAPhysics kinematics tutorials. LAAPhysics provides a solution to two vexing problems in online education: (1) the absence of an interactive and guided laboratory science environment; (2) the existence of scale barriers and high marginal costs. To what extent can a research based modeling pedagogy (D. Hestenes) be successfully transported to the web, and how do we adequately evaluate the various facets of this question? To what extent can underserved populations who lack adequate facilities benefit from a robust, 24/7 online lab environment with virtual guide agent and peer collaborators and with freedom to act (and make mistakes) virtually as they do in situ? To what extent are virtual lab skills and experimental techniques mirrored in the wet lab? We will demonstrate a suite of LAAPhysics tools which facilitate learning and which can be used independent of the LAAPhysics environment: student notebook and draw program, faculty and student qualitative graph and vector grader, analysis tool. These tools will be given to workshop W07 participants. For more information: -> About LAAPhysics (then to -> Video and also to -> Presentations; Philadelphia, 2002).

Problem Context and Newton's Second Law: A First Look, Alicia R. Allbaugh, Kansas State University,

Homework problems covering the same conceptual areas can appear quite different to students due to different situations, variables and unknowns. To study the effects of problem context, students in a calculus-based introductory physics course (including physics majors and engineering majors from several areas) were interviewed up to four times during the first semester of the course. In the interviews, students were asked conceptual questions related to their homework problems. From this information, students' applications of Newton's Second Law and the dependence of those applications on the context of the problems were assessed. Preliminary results will be presented.

Students’ approaches to hard problems II: Reform course, Matthew A. Kohlmyer, North Carolina State University,
Ruth W. Chabay, Bruce A. Sherwood

Students taking a reform calculus-based introductory physics course based on the textbook "Matter & Interactions" were asked to solve mechanics problems much more complex than standard textbook problems. In attacking these problems, which could not be solved analytically, the students provided interesting glimpses of the limitations of their understanding and ability to apply basic physics principles. Most students from this course did attempt to begin from fundamental principles. Some students successfully solved the problems numerically; others reached impasses and either stopped or fell back to strategies like those of traditional students.

Students' Mental Models of Sound Propagation*, Zdeslav Hrepic, Kansas State University,
Dean A. Zollman and N. Sanjay Rebello

By interviewing students in conceptual and algebra-based physics classes, we have investigated students' mental models of sound propagation. We call the dominant alternative model found the entity model. In the entity model sound is a self-standing entity, different from the medium, which propagates through the medium. Sound, according to this model, may or may not be material, propagate through vacuum, and affect the particles of the medium. All other observed alternative models unify some features of the entity model and the wave model. We called this group of models hybrid models and the associated model state - hybrid model state. Unlike the mixed model state, where the student uses more than one model during same interview, the hybrid model state is a single model state. We will show how features of these models depend on the context in which the propagation of sound was discussed with students. *Supported by the National Science Foundation under grant #0087788

The Effect of Question Order on Student Responses to Multiple-Choice Questions*, Kara Gray, Kansas State University,
Dean A. Zollman and N. Sanjay Rebello

Educators and researchers often make the assumption that the order of test or survey questions is unimportant. Is this assumption valid? This study investigates how the order of two related FCI questions (#15 and 16) affect students’ responses. This study also investigates the effect an unrelated FCI question (#14) has on answers to the above problems. Four versions of a survey were administered before and after instruction to 243 students taking an algebra-based physics class. Versions one and two of the survey included the related physics questions in opposite order. Versions three and four included the unrelated physics question and one of the above questions. Student responses for the four versions were compared for both the pre- and post-instruction surveys. The methodology and results of this study will be presented in the poster. *Supported by the National Science Foundation under grant #0087788

Gender, Math and the FCI, Laura McCullough, University of Wisconsin-Stout,

Does math background interact with gender on FCI scores? A sample of 300 non-physics students were given one of two versions of the Force Concept Inventory, along with a brief demographic questionnaire. This poster will take a look at how math background may interact with gender on this assessment instrument.

CSEM Data From About 500 Students at Boston University, Andrew Duffy, Boston University,

CSEM responses from about 500 students at Boston University are summarized. The 32 CSEM questions are ranked by pre-test score, post-test score, and normalized gain. In addition, the prevelance of students choosing particular responses for each question is shown for both the pre-test and post-test. This data is analyzed to identify common student preconceptions and misconceptions, as well as to identify concepts that students still have difficulty with after instruction.

Labs and Final Exams - Any Relationship?, Paul A. Knutson, University of Minnesota,
Vince Kuo, Ken Heller, Pat Heller

The Physics Education Research Group at the University of Minnesota is involved in research and development in introductory physics labs. We view writing lab reports as an important part of our research based problem-solving instructional strategy. A pilot study is being conducted to investigate the relationships and connections between the quality of discussion of physics concepts in student lab reports and student performance on final exams. This talk will focus on some preliminary investigations and discuss directions for further work.

Mental models and context factors - examples from electricity and magnetism*, Rasil Warnakulasooriya, The Ohio State University,
Lei Bao

We attempt to identify the mental models and the context features of a problem setting that students have and/or use in electricity and magnetism. Sample questions have been developed based on the possible mental models and the context factors that affect students' reasoning. The questions may be used in identifying the knowledge states of students in a multiple-choice question-based assessment and diagnostic environment. The results are from algebra and calculus-based electricity and magnetism courses given at The Ohio State University. * Supported in part by NSF grants REC-0087788 and REC-0126070

A Q-type assessment instrument*, Xueli Zou, California State University, Chico,
Orion Davies

A Q-type instrument, the Laboratory Program Variables Inventory (LPVI)**, was used to assess the investigative science learning environment (ISLE) created for the calculus-based introductory physics course at California State University, Chico. The LPVI was originally developed to investigate three different laboratory formats--verification, guided inquiry, and open inquiry--used in college general chemistry courses. This poster will share LPVI's results obtained from the ISLE laboratory, analyze its advantages and limitations as an assessment instrument, and discuss its future use in physics. *Supported in part by NSF DUE #0088906 ** M. R. Abraham, "A descriptive instrument for use in investigating science laboratories," Journal of Research in Science Teaching 19 (2) 155-165 (1982).

Interactive problem-solving tutorials, Leon Hsu, University of Minnesota,

I am developing a set of computer tutorials to help students learn to solve physics problems. Based on the PALs (Personal Assistants for Learning) originally developed by Fred Reif, the tutorials will guide students in solving both traditional and context-rich problems using the five-step problem solving strategy employed at the University of Minnesota. Such tutorials can provide students with individualized guidance and feedback in solving problems outside of the classroom.

Students’ approaches to hard problems I: Traditional course, Ruth W. Chabay, North Carolina State University,
Matthew A. Kohlmyer, Bruce A. Sherwood

Students taking a traditional calculus-based introductory physics course were asked to solve problems much more complex than standard textbook problems. In attacking these problems, which could not be solved analytically, the students provided interesting glimpses of the limitations of their understanding and ability to apply basic physics principles. Frequently students ignored important features of the problems in order to reduce them to familiar problems to which the solution was known. Some students were confident about their solutions, while others realized they could not reach an answer.

Relationship of Individual Student Normalized Learning Gains in Mechanics with Gender and with Pretest Scores on Mathematics and Spatial Visualization*, Richard Hake, Indiana University,

Relationship of Individual Student Normalized Learning Gains in Mechanics with Gender and with Pretest Scores on Mathematics and Spatial Visualization.* Richard R. Hake, Indiana University (Emeritus); 24245 Hatteras Street, Woodland Hills, CA 91367; 818-992-0632 ; <>. In a previous survey (Hake 1998a,b) the correlation of the average normalized gain <g> on the FCI or Mechanics Diagnostic for 62 courses with %<pretest> was a very low +0.02. However, open research questions remain as to whether or not any "hidden variables" (the averages over a class of e.g., gender, math proficiency, spatial visualization ability, scientific reasoning skills, physics aptitude, personality type, motivation, socio-economic level, ethnicity, IQ, SAT, GPA) are significantly correlated with <g>. One approach to this question is to investigate the relationship of individual student learning gains with such variables for single courses (Hake et al. 1994, Meltzer 2001). For one course (IU95S of Hake 1998b, Table Ic, N = 209, <g> = 0.60), I measured: (a) correlation coefficients between single student g’s and pretest scores on mathematics and spatial visualization of, respectively, +0.32 and +0.23; (b) a gender-difference <g> (112 males) – <g> (97 females) = 0.659 – 0.546 = 0.113, with a Cohen effect size d = 0.58, much smaller than the d = 2.43 (Hake 2002) for interactive engagement vs traditional courses in the survey of Hake (1998a,b). Thus, in my opinion, effort to increase the degree of effective interactive engagement for all students should probably take a higher priority than effort to reduce gender disparity in FCI <g> values, even despite the deplorable gender inequity in physics participation (Mallow & Hake 2002). *Partially supported by NSF Grant DUE/MDR-9253965. References Hake, R. R., R. Wakeland, A. Bhattacharyya, and R. Sirochman. 1994. "Assessment of individual student performance in an introductory mechanics course," AAPT Announcer 24(4): 76. Hake, R. R. 1998a. "Interactive-engagement vs traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses." Am. J. Phys. 66(1): 64-74; also at <>. Hake, R. R. 1998b. "Interactive-engagement methods in introductory mechanics courses," submitted to Physics Ed. Res. Supplement to Am. J. Phys.; also at <>. [A crucial companion paper to Hake (1998a) – PER has no archival journal!] Hake, R.R. 2002. "Lessons from the physics education reform effort." Conservation Ecology 5(2): 28; online at <>. Mallow, J.V. & R.R. Hake. 2002. "Gender Issues in Physics/Science Education (GIPSE) – Some Annotated References"; online at <>; about 300 references and 200 hot-linked URL's. Meltzer, D.E. 2001. "The relationship between mathematics preparation and conceptual learning gains in physics: a possible 'hidden variable' in diagnostic pretest scores." Submitted to PhysicsEd. Res. Supplement to Am. J. Phys.; online as ref. 5 at <>.

Reasoning Strategies Employed by Students to Understand Equations in Physics, Jonathan Tuminaro, University of Maryland,

Mathematics is a stumbling block for many students in physics. But, how exactly does the use of mathematics in physics impede learning by the student? Bruce Sherin has developed a theoretical framework, which he calls symbolic forms[1], to describe what it means to understand physics equations. His framework, however, was developed by observing how sophisticated students understand physics equations. This poster investigates whether Sherin's theoretical framework can be used by researchers to understand the mistakes introductory physics students make when using mathematics in physics. [1] Sherin, B. (2001). How students understand physics equations. Cognition and Instruction; v19 n4, p479-541.

Relationships between Scientific Reasoning Ability, Student Expectations, and Course Performance, Melissa Dancy, Davidson College,

This poster will present the results of a preliminary look at connections between scientific reasoning ability (as measured by the Lawson’s Test of Scientific Reasoning[1]), student expectations and attitudes toward physics (as measured by the Maryland Physics Expectations Survey[2]) and course performance (measured by exam grades, homework scores, and final course grade).  The data shows a strong correlation (r=0.65) between scientific reasoning ability and regular exams.  The analysis of MPEX scores does not show a clear relationship with the other variables.[1] Revised edition available by contacting Anton E. Lawson, Based on:  Lawson, A. E. 1978.  Development and validation of the classroom test of formal reasoning.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 15(1): 11-24. [2] Redish, E., Saul, J., Steinberg, R., Student expectations in introductory physics, Am. J. Phys. 66(3), 212-224 (1998).

Physics Words in Everyday Language and Implications for Student Learning*, N. Sanjay Rebello, Kansas State University,
Salomon Itza-Ortiz and Dean A. Zollman

We surveyed a physics class with 154 non-science majors to study students’ perceptions of the similarities between the everyday and physics meanings of three commonly used words. Before the topics were introduced in class, students were asked to construct at least three complete sentences that use each of these words. Later, after the topics had been introduced in class, students were asked to explain how their use of these words were similar or different from the ways these words are used in physics. We will present an analysis of our results, and share our insights about the implications for student learning. *Work in part supported by NSF grant # REC-0087788

The effect of researcher agenda on data collection and interpretation, Rachel E. Scherr, University of Maryland Physics Education Research Group,
Michael C. Wittmann, University of Maine Physics Education Research Laboratory

Individual student interviews are often considered the gold standard for listening accurately to student ideas. However, even in an open-ended, time-unlimited, one-on-one conversation, accurate listening requires careful effort. We can and do ignore student statements when our own research agenda limits our attention. Explicit consideration of possible research agendas can increase our repertoire for teaching and research. We illustrate these ideas with specific examples from an interview on the conducting properties of materials.

Epistemology mediating conceptual knowledge: Constraints on data accessible from interviews, Michael C. Wittmann, University of Maine Physics Education Research Laboratory,
Rachel E. Scherr, University of Maryland Physics Education Research Group

When carrying out individual student interviews, a researcher's insight into student thinking is often mediated by the student's epistemological stance. We describe an interview on conductivity and current flow. Early in the interview, the student focuses on memorized knowledge and the interviewer is unable to gain insight into her reasoning about the physics. Later, she treats knowledge as “invented stuff" and gradually articulates a physical mechanism for conduction. We use her interview to illustrate that hidden elements of interview situations, such as the epistemological stance of the student, can have a drastic effect on the state of knowledge we ascribe to a student.

Methods for researching group learning in the SCALE-UP classroom, Avi Marchewka, NC State University, Avi
R. Beichner M. J. Darby

As part of a larger study investigating the learning benefits of working within a group in physics courses, we present here the two tools of analysis used. The first is a comparison tool. Here we compare between: 1) a theoretical model for optimal learning in a group, 2) examples and instructions that students are given for working together, 3) a "group contract" that students create in the beginning of the semester, and 4) a contract that they create halfway through the semester. The second tool is the analysis of interviews we have conducted with students who participated in group learning. Using the QSR NUD- IST program, we perform a quantitative search for key terms that repeat in these interviews (e.g. "help" communication, "together", "she was smart", "if we don't understand something") in order to make qualitative observations on the dynamics and benefits of group learning. In this poster we will demonstrate the use of these tools and offer initial findings.

Developing the Lunar Phases Concept Inventory, Rebecca Lindell, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville,
James Olsen

Lunar Phases may be one of the most challenging concepts for astronomy instructors to successfully teach. Previous research studies have shown that many students enter the introductory astronomy course with incomplete, inadequate, or simply incorrect models of lunar phases. These misunderstandings are usually difficult to overcome, and instruction needs to be based on a thorough understanding of students' pre-existing understanding. To aid instructors in assessing students’ mental models, the Lunar Phases Concept Inventory (LPCI) was developed. Based upon an in-depth qualitative investigation of students' initial models of lunar phases, this multiple-choice inventory was designed to probe the different dimensions of students' mental models of lunar phases. To evaluate the students' models effectively, items were designed to take advantage of the innovative model analysis theory. The development of this inventory will be discussed, as well as the processes involved in establishing its reliability and validity.

Students Inventing Microscopic Models from Modern Physics Data, Brant Hinrichs, Drury university,

I had a class of five juniors in Modern Physics for the Fall of 2001. Throughout the course, before we began a new topic (light 2-slit interference, photoelectric effect, emission line spectra of gases, electron 2-slit interference, etc.), the students were given a written questionnaire. They were initially shown an experimental setup and asked to predict the outcome (for phenomena they had not yet studied). Once that was completed, they were then shown the actual resulting experimental data and asked to invent, on the spot, an explicitly microscopic model in as much detail as they could to explain the data. They were to indicate how much they were inventing, and how much they were relying on other sources (previous courses, outside reading, etc.). I will present my initial analysis of their responses.

A Study of the Efficacy of a Web-delivered Visualization Tutorial On One-Dimensional Kinematics, Taha Mzoughi,  Mississippi State University,
Paul Hutchison, Robert Atkinson

This paper describes a research project investigating the efficacy of a Web-delivered visualization tutorial on one-dimensional kinematics. The aim of the experiment was to identify if the tutorial is more effective at increasing student understanding of 1D kinematics representations than “traditional” physics instruction. In particular, the effects of interactivity and animation were investigated. Details of the experimental design and the results obtained will be described.

Context map: A method to represent the interactions between students’ learning and multiple context factors*, Gyoungho Lee, Department of Physics, The Ohio State University,
Lei Bao

As shown by previous research, student learning can be significantly affected by context. Thinking about context, one often finds a wide range of factors that can affect learning either independently or in combination. Thus, we need a method that helps us understand the complicated interactions between context factors and learning. In our research, we developed a tool, a context map, that helps us analyze integratively student data obtained from longitudinal case studies, classroom observations, individual interviews, and web-based surveys. The context map provides a graphical representation of the interactions among context factors and learning. We will show examples and discuss the possible implications of this method for research and instruction.*Supported in part by NSF grant #REC-0087788 and #REC-0126070

Do students treat energy as a material substance?, Michael Loverude, California State University Fullerton,

We are investigating student understanding of energy in the context of physical science courses for non-science majors, including pre-service teachers. Previous research has suggested that students treat heat as a material substance and electric current as something that is ‘used up’ in a circuit. Are these ideas manifestations of an underlying deeper confusion or merely difficulties that arise in certain physics topics? Examples will be presented of student responses to questions posed in interviews and on written problems.

Distributed Cognition: A useful theoretical framework or gibberish, Tom Foster, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville,

As part of the Situated Learning camp in psychology, distributed cognition posits that learning is a social endeavor. However, where distributed cognition diverges is recognizing that the social aspect of learning extends beyond human-human interactions. The artifacts, language, diagrams, cultural norms, etc., of our knowledge contain knowledge themselves. In effect, all of knowledge is an active state and not just passive recall. Furthermore, by using knowledge, an individual interfaces with the intelligence embodied by the action. Distributed cognition's definition of the learner and the centrality of representations could have profound consequences for physics problem-solving and perhaps all of physics education. This poster will present Distributed Cognition as a theoretical framework for defining learning. However, distributed cognition could just be nonsense. Please bring your ideas about learning and knowledge to this poster session. Let's start a dialog.

Student Learning of Calorimetry Concepts*, Ngoc-Loan P. Nguyen, Iowa State University,
David E. Meltzer

As part of an investigation into student learning of thermodynamics, we are examining understanding of calorimetry concepts among students in a calculus-based physics course. During interviews, students were asked questions regarding a piece of hot metal submerged in an insulated container of water. Students realized that thermal equilibrium would be achieved, and were also able to correctly predict the effect on the equilibrium temperature of changing the mass of the metal. However, students generally displayed an inability to distinguish among internal energy, heat, and work. Some students also confused thermal conductivity with specific heat. Preliminary versions of guided-inquiry worksheets have been developed that present both qualitative questions and proportional reasoning tasks. The tasks include determination of (1) changes in the internal energy of an ideal gas, (2) relative amount of heat transfer between materials of differing temperature and specific heat, and (3) relative temperature changes of those materials during their progress toward thermal equilibrium. We will report on initial assessment data regarding the effectiveness of these materials in improving student learning. *Supported by NSF DUE-#9981140

Secondary Students’ Cognitive Process For The Line Graph From Graph Components, Tae-Sun, KIM,
Beom Ki, KIM

While line graphs are frequently used to communicate so many data and basic in science classroom activities, little has been reported concerning the students’ cognitive process for those by empirical research as Jones et al.(1999) or more. This study was intended to investigate such a cognitive process empirically. We made the computer program for grasping both by which order readers glance the components (title, x-axis, x-axis label, y-axis, y-axis label, data region, legend) of line graph and how long they stay examining each components respectively. And we analyzed the glancing order and time in terms of each components using the SPSSWIN statistic program. The result would lead to identify secondary students’ cognitive process for line graph explicitly. Finally, we describe some implications about secondary students’ cognitive process with regard to the line graph in the educational and theoretical aspects.

 A Review of the introduction of PSSC physics program in Korea during the 1960s and 1970s, Hyukjoon Choi, Korea National University of Education,
Jina Kim, Jaesool Kwon

The science curriculum innovation movement in USA in the 1950s and 1960s influenced Korean science education very significantly. PSSC physics program would be one of them. In 1964, two American science educators, Sanderman and Schweighardtin, came to Korea as Fulbright program and introduced PSSC to Korea. In 1965, the PSSC physics courses were opened as one of the basic physics courses in universities. The textbooks and lab manuals etc. were translated into Korean and used in in-service science teacher retraining program on PSSC physics. The contents in the PSSC text books and lab manuals were adopted in the later Korean physics textbook very much. Therefore, PSSC should have influenced Korean physics education significantly; however, there have been no research reports about the procedure and the effects. The purpose of this study was to review the process of PSSC physics program introduction and to examine its influence in Korean science education during the 1960s and 1970s.

Students' Cognitive Conflict Levels by Provided Quantitative Demonstration and Qualitative Demonstration*, Jina Kim, Korea National University of Education,
Hyukjoon Choi, Jaesool Kwon

The purpose of this study was to understand middle school students' cognitive conflict levels when they were confronted with anomalous situations. The anomalous situations were created by two different methods; quantitative and qualitative demonstrations. In this research, two physics contexts, mechanics and electricity were used. In each context, two test items, one for quantitative demonstration and the other for qualitative demonstration were given to the students after a pretest. To measure the cognitive conflict levels, CCLT(Cognitive Conflict Levels Test) developed by Lee et al.(1999) were used. As the result, the quantitative demonstration group showed higher cognitive conflict level than the qualitative group did in electricity context; however, there was no significant difference in mechanics context. *Supported in part by BK21.

Consolidating Information About Student Difficulties with Mechanics, Diane J Grayson, Centre for the Improvement of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, Faculty of Science, University of South Africa Max Braun, Centre for Science Education, University of Pretoria

A great deal of research has been carried out over the past three decades on student difficulties with a variety of physics concepts, much of it related to mechanics. Grayson et al1 (2001) have developed a 4-level framework for identifying and classifying student difficulties according to how much information is available about them. Where the difficulties have been found in a number of contexts, they can be classified as "established" (level 4) on the framework. Where they are only documented in limited contexts they are classified "partially established" (level 3). In this paper we present results of a meta-analysis of studies on student difficulties with mechanics, and classify the difficulties on the framework. We suggest that level 4 difficulties should become part of teachers' pedagogical content knowledge, while further research is needed to elaborate level 3 difficulties.
1 Grayson, D.J., Anderson, T.R. and Crossley, L.G. (2001). A four-level framework for identifying and classifying student conceptual and reasoning difficulties. International Journal of Science Education, 23 (6) 611-622

Student Use of a Textbook in Introductory Physics Courses, Karen Cummings, Southern Connecticut State University,
Timothy French (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Patrick Cooney (Millersville University), Priscilla Laws (Dickinson College) and Joe Redish (University of Maryland)

This talk will report on a study undertaken during the spring 2002 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Seventy students in the Studio Physics I course volunteered to participate in a study of student use of, and reaction to, the textbook. The textbook in use was the preliminary version of a research-based adaptation of Fundamentals of Physics (Halliday, Resnick and Walker) by K. Cummings, P. Laws, E.F. Redish and P. Cooney. The study was comprised of weekly surveys as well as occasional focus groups and interviews. The main focus was to investigate student use of worked examples and preference in their placement. In addition, we looked at how much, and in what ways, the students used the text. Responses from students at Millersville University on the same instrument will be presented as well. Correlations between survey results, grades and learning gains on the FMCE will also be discussed.

Effectiveness of Abridged Interactive Lecture Demonstrations, Timothy French, Yale University (Formaly Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
Karen Cummings (Southern Connecticut State University and RPI)

 At the Winter 2002 meeting of the AAPT, researchers from Harvard University presented results that indicted when a single demonstration included a "prediction step", it produced significantly higher levels of retained understanding. They also found that demonstrations with only the prediction step were as effective as demonstrations done using a lengthier protocol involving a student prediction, observation, group discussion, and reflection back on predictions.(1) This study intrigued the authors because Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (ILDs) have been used for several years to bolster learning in the Studio courses at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. However, we have found two significant drawbacks to the use of ILDs: the time needed to execute the eight-step demonstration process and the unwillingness on the part of students to volunteer their predictions for large group discussion.(2) An abridged demonstration protocol, if equally as effective as its longer counterpart, would be both an advantage for the implementation of these demonstrations in time-constrained courses and an important insight into which presentation flaws are unlikely to have a negative impact on learning gains. In hopes of clarifying these issues, an experiment was performed in the Studio Physics I course at RPI during the spring of 2002. Approximately 300 students in different sections of the course were split into two groups. Both groups saw the standard Newton's Third Law ILD series. However, one group was asked only for a prediction before viewing the demonstration, while the other group was prompted to engage in all eight steps of the suggested procedure. A detailed discussion of the experiment and learning gains for the two groups as measured with the FMCE will be presented. (1) (2) Evaluating Innovation in Studio Physics, K. Cummings, J. Marx, R. Thornton, D. Kuhl, American Journal of Physics, Supplement 1 to Vol. 67, No. 7, pp S38-S45 (1999)

The Effect of a New Homework System on Student Motivation and Learning Behavior, Homeyra R. Sadaghiani, Lei Bao, The Ohio State University

In our introductory physics courses, we implemented a new homework method where students are allowed to view the solutions to their assignments before the due date. Through applying this homework system, we study students' adaptation to having this type of feedback in advance. In particular, we investigate their motivation in learning physics and study the effectiveness of this method in conjunction with students' motivational level. We will report our findings of this research and discuss the implications on instruction. *Supported in part by NSF grants #REC-0087788 and #REC-0126070.