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A Study of Gender and Cross-Discipline Conceptual Physics Understanding L.A. Kunkel; M. Balls – Student Researchers, BYU-Idaho B.A. Pyper, Ph.D. – Director.

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Presentation on theme: "A Study of Gender and Cross-Discipline Conceptual Physics Understanding L.A. Kunkel; M. Balls – Student Researchers, BYU-Idaho B.A. Pyper, Ph.D. – Director."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Study of Gender and Cross-Discipline Conceptual Physics Understanding L.A. Kunkel; M. Balls – Student Researchers, BYU-Idaho B.A. Pyper, Ph.D. – Director of Physics Education, BYU-Idaho R. Seamons, Ed.D. – Dean, College of Education, BYU-Idaho

2 Abstract We administered the Force Concept Inventory to four different courses at BYU-Idaho: two physics courses and two non-science courses. The results showed some significant differences, both in student demographics (e.g. gender and year in school) and in conceptual physics understanding (e.g. self-perception and attitude towards science), as well as some very interesting correlations between specific items. We administered the Force Concept Inventory to four different courses at BYU-Idaho: two physics courses and two non-science courses. The results showed some significant differences, both in student demographics (e.g. gender and year in school) and in conceptual physics understanding (e.g. self-perception and attitude towards science), as well as some very interesting correlations between specific items.

3 Students who took the Test American Heritage American Heritage English 111 English 111 Physics 105 (Introductory Applied Physics I, Algebra/Trig based) Physics 105 (Introductory Applied Physics I, Algebra/Trig based) Physics 121 (Principles of Physics I, Calculus based) Physics 121 (Principles of Physics I, Calculus based)

4 The Coversheet Gender Gender School Year School Year Declared Major Declared Major Ranked agreement with these statements: Ranked agreement with these statements: I am math-literate (confident in my ability to understand math). I am math-literate (confident in my ability to understand math). I am science-literate (confident in my ability to understand science). I am science-literate (confident in my ability to understand science). An understanding of science is useful in everyday life. An understanding of science is useful in everyday life. Math Background Algebra/Geometry Algebra II/ Trig College Algebra Pre-Cal/ Analytic Geometry Calculus or higher Science Background HS Science other than Physics Regular or Honors HS Physics College General Ed Physics/ Astronomy College Science other than Physics (Chemistry, Geology, etc.) AP or College Physics

5 Example Test Problems A large truck collides head-on with a small compact car. During the collision A large truck collides head-on with a small compact car. During the collision 1. The truck exerts a greater amount of force on the car than the car exerts on the truck. 2. The car exerts a greater amount of force on the truck than the truck exerts on the car. 3. Neither exerts a force on the other, the car gets smashed simply because it gets in the way of the truck. 4. The truck exerts a force on the car but the car does not exert a force the truck. 5. The truck exerts the same amount of force on the car as the car exerts on the truck. A steel ball is attached to a string and swung in a circular path in a horizontal plane as illustrated in the figure below. At point P, the string suddenly breaks near the ball. If these events are observed from directly above, which of the paths 1-5 below would the ball most closely follow after the string breaks?

6 Average Score by Gender Totals <.001 AmHer<.001 Eng.0426 Ph Ph

7 Majors by Gender

8 Average Score by School Year FreshSophJuniorSeniorFresh < Soph JuniorNS

9 School Year by Gender

10 School Year by Course

11 Score by Course AmHerEng Ph 105 Ph 121 AmHer-NS<.001<.001 Eng Ph 105 -NS

12 Score by Major Bus/ComFA/HumPS&ESoc/EdAg/LS <.001 Bus/Com-NS< FA/Hum<.001NS PS&E<.001

13 Correlations Gender and Course Gender and Course Gender and Year Gender and Year Gender and Score Gender and Score

14 Correlations  Math Background and Score .365  Math Efficacy and Score .310  Math and Science Efficacy .586  Science Background and Score .387  Science Efficacy and Score .430  Science Efficacy and Usefulness .418

15 Summary Males in our study performed better than Females on the test Males in our study performed better than Females on the test A correlation is indicated between a student’s self- efficacy and their conceptual physics understanding A correlation is indicated between a student’s self- efficacy and their conceptual physics understanding A correlation is indicated between a student’s math and/or science background and their conceptual physics understanding A correlation is indicated between a student’s math and/or science background and their conceptual physics understanding Confounding variables: Confounding variables: Year in School and Gender Year in School and Gender Year in School and Course Year in School and Course General conceptual physics understanding is discouragingly low! General conceptual physics understanding is discouragingly low!

16 Concerns Do women not understand physics as well as men or is the test biased against women? Do women not understand physics as well as men or is the test biased against women? Why are so few women taking physics? Why are so few women taking physics? Do physics students have a better understanding of conceptual Newtonian Physics than non physics students, or are non-physics students not applying their knowledge because of contextual dependency? Do physics students have a better understanding of conceptual Newtonian Physics than non physics students, or are non-physics students not applying their knowledge because of contextual dependency?

17 Acknowledgments  Brian A. Pyper, Ph.D. – Director of Physics Education, BYU-Idaho  Rhonda Seamons, Ed.D. – Dean, College of Education, BYU-Idaho  The Brigham Young University-Idaho Research in Science Education Group  The Jacob Spori Memorial Fund  The Thomas E. Ricks Memorial Fund


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