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Student Learning Preference Styles in Introductory Physics: Implications for Our Courses Steven Sahyun University of Wisconsin - Whitewater UWW November.

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Presentation on theme: "Student Learning Preference Styles in Introductory Physics: Implications for Our Courses Steven Sahyun University of Wisconsin - Whitewater UWW November."— Presentation transcript:

1 Student Learning Preference Styles in Introductory Physics: Implications for Our Courses Steven Sahyun University of Wisconsin - Whitewater UWW November 14, 2003

2 Outline:  Physics Education Research  VARK Test and Results  Physics for Elementary Teachers course revision

3 Physics Education Research Physics Education Research involves a coordination between Researching Student Learning, providing Curriculum Development, and enhancing and modifying Instruction. Research Instruction Curriculum Development Curriculum Development Learning Models Learning Models

4 Physics Education Research Groups hysics/Physics_Ed/directory.html A partial list of Physics Education Groups Arizona State University University of California at Berkeley Boise State University Carnegie Mellon University Dickinson College Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Harvard University Indiana University Kansas State University University of Maine University of Maryland - Department of Physics University of Massachusetts at Amherst University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Montana State University University of Nebraska at Lincoln North Carolina State University Ohio State University University of Oregon Oregon State University Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute San Diego State University Tufts University University of Washington University of Oslo, Norway University of Sydney, Australia

5 What is known? PER has shown rather conclusively that: 1.the traditional mode of introductory physics instruction is relatively ineffective in promoting students' conceptual understanding. (passive student lectures, recipe labs, and algorithmic problem exams) 2. “interactive engagement (IE) methods” CAN be much more effective than “traditional” methods in promoting an understanding of physics. IE methods are designed at least in part to promote conceptual understanding and intuition building through the use of hands-on, immediate-feedback activities, group activities/projects, or discussion with peers and/or instructors. each/proifrehgun/p05010400ba61f970bc11@%5B216.244.0.155%5D

6 Learning Styles and Physics Recent developments in physics pedagogy are inherently multi-modal in their delivery and application. Hands on Activity sessions: Tutorials in Introductory Physics McDermott, Shaffer, and PEG RealTime Physics Sokoloff, Thronton, Laws Interactive engagement strategies: Peer Instruction (Concept Tests) Mazur Interactive Lecture Demonstrations Sokoloff Computer Simulations of Physics Experiments Many Applets and standalone programs. In trying to incorporate active learning techniques in my courses, I was wondering what presentation method will students respond to?

7 Learning Styles and Physics There are many methods for classifying or demarking learning preferences, styles, objectives, and domains. There may be an advantage to investigating the learning preferences of introductory physics students to see if there is a dominant learning preference in our students. I was introduced to an elegant and simple assessment created by Neil Fleming and Charles Bonwell called VARK.

8 VARK Questionnaire VARK is a 13 item questionnaire that provides a profile of how someone prefers to take-in and give-out information whilst learning. The questions are based on real-world situations. Visual (V): a preference for graphical and symbolic representation of information such as graphs, charts, maps, or pictures. Aural (A): a preference for spoken or heard information such as words or music. Read/Write (R): a preference for information printed as words. Kinesthetic (K): is a preference based on simulated or real perceptions taken-in during a learning experience (a combination of motion, taste, smell, touch, as well as sight and hearing.)

9 more on VARK... Sample question: You are about to give directions to a person who is standing with you. She is staying in a hotel in town and wants to visit your house later. She has a rental car. I would:  draw a map on paper.  tell her the directions.  write down the directions (without a map)  collect her from the hotel in a car. “ VARK deals with only one dimension of the complex amalgam of preferences that make up a learning style.... VARK has little to say about personality, motivation, social preferences, physical environments, intraversion-extraversion… PREFERENCES ARE NOT THE SAME AS STRENGTHS ” [Fleming]

10 Who took the questionnaire? University of Wisconsin at Whitewater Students The Physics Department has two one-semester introductory survey physic courses: Physics Foundations (Spring 2003): five-credit course that meets for four 50-minute classes and one two-hour laboratory per week. It currently uses Griffith’s The Physics of Everyday Phenomena text and is a general course with a large number of Health and Occupational Safety majors. and Descriptive Physics(Fall 2002): three-credit course that meets for two 75- minute classes per week. It uses Hewitt’s Conceptual Physics text and is designed for K-8 elementary education students.

11 Testing The VARK was available to students as an extra-credit activity. A link to the survey Web-page was located on the course and homework Web pages, and students were given an extra-credit point for submitting their VARK scores either by hand, e-mail, or through BlackBoard. The survey was available to take anytime during the semester. Fall 2002: Of the 46 students who were initially enrolled in the Descriptive Physics course (two sections), 35 (76%) took the VARK survey. Spring 2003: Of the 54 students who were initially enrolled in the Physics Foundations course (one section), 45 (83%) took the VARK survey. Students who did not to participate (and not drop the courses) had average grades in the low C range.

12 Combined Results

13 Results by course: “The most common final scores for each mode (V, A, R and K) which are 3, 3, 4 and 5.” [Fleming]


15 Concept Tests In an attempt at an assessment of student learning gains for the semester, pre/post tests were developed and administered to the two courses. There were two similar but not identical tests. Both tests consisted of 26 multiple choice questions with the last question being a question on the confidence of the student’s answers. Both tests covered material from the entire semester (all of the physics content areas covered in the course). The Concept Test results were assessed by looking at the normalized gain for the class. The normalized gain is found, since there were 25 questions, using:

16 Hake Research Data Hake, R.R. 1998. "Interactive-engagement vs traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses," Am. J. Phys. 66, 64-74 (1998); online as ref. 24 at. Gain results for the Force Concept Inventory test.

17 Concept Test The gains were computed for students who were present for both the pre- and post-tests, and the results averaged.

18 Implications There appears to be a slight preference towards the kinesthetic modality for students in these introductory classes. Is this surprising? These results are consistent with the larger VARK study report. They are consistent with what has been demonstrated with active learning studies. They are consistent with the saying: I see and I forget, I hear and I remember, I do and I understand. -- Confucius

19 Implications The more hands-on and discussion oriented group activities, the better. But what is the most effective way of implementing this? Currently I use an array of engagement strategies: Mazur “flash card” response and discussion role-playing manipulative demonstrations and experiments short in-class group activities group project Is increasing the number of activities the solution or is there another way? What will be most effective for teaching physics to students in the Physics 210 course?

20 San Diego State University Physics for Elementary Teachers The PET course consist of seven cycles: Cycle 1 : Interactions and Energy Cycle 2 : Interactions and Forces Cycle 3 : Interactions and Fields Cycle 4 : Model of Magnetism Cycle 5 : Light Interactions Cycle 6 : Electric Circuit, Electromagnetic, and Thermal Interactions Cycle 7 : Interactions and Conservation “The Physics for Elementary Teachers (PET) curriculum is a one semester (60 – 70 hours), inquiry-based physics course for prospective elementary teachers. With some adaptation, it can also be used in workshops for in-service teachers.” Fred Goldberg

21 Cycle Structure Each cycle follows the same basic structure. Developing Ideas Students perform experiments and view computer simulations designed to help them construct the Target Ideas for the cycle. Scientists’ Ideas After students have developed their own ideas, they receive a ‘Scientists’ Ideas’ sheet that lets them see that their ideas are similar to accepted science ideas. Applying Ideas At the end of each cycle, students practice applying the ideas they have developed to explain both familiar and new phenomena. Homework ‘Developing Ideas’ activities construct new ideas not addressed in the regular class activities. ESI Homework

22 Elementary Students’ Ideas (ESI) Activities and Analysis ESI activities provide PET students with the opportunity to apply their evolving physics knowledge in the context of the elementary classroom. PET Students watch video clips of elementary students engaging in science activities and reflect on the elementary students ideas and the role they play in learning.

23 Student Research Involvement opportunities.  Statistical Data Analysis (VARK, Pre/post test results)  Implementation of the PET curriculum.  Development of Web resources.  Development of Physics related course activities.  Video analysis of student interactions.

24 Discussion and Questions

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