Presentation on theme: "Interactive simulations for teaching physics; a powerful (and dangerous) educational tool Work supported by: NSF, Hewlett Foundation, Univ. of Colorado,"— Presentation transcript:
Interactive simulations for teaching physics; a powerful (and dangerous) educational tool Work supported by: NSF, Hewlett Foundation, Univ. of Colorado, me and Sarah Carl Wieman UBC CU
Physics Education Technology Project (PhET) Develop interactive simulations Research on simulation design and effectiveness Goals for talk Examples of good simulations Research results on sim design and effectiveness and how matches other research on learning. When simulations carefully tested and refined : Highly engaging Very effective for learning Work with very wide range of students (“grade school to grad school”)
PhET (phet.colorado.edu) ~ 60 interactive simulations Intro physics, modern physics, some chemistry, bit of math, starting to expand into geo and bio, … Phet-based activities database on website show website, sim list, balloons and sweater, moving man, gas run phet sims (all free!) : directly from web (regular browser, platform independent) download whole website to local computer for offline use 2006-- 1 Million sims launched off website; 50,000 full site downloads Extensive development and testing process--teams (faculty, software engineers, sci. ed. specialists)
Physics faculty: Michael Dubson Noah Finkelstein Kathy Perkins (manager) Carl Wieman Postdocs: Sam McKagan Linda Koch (Chem) Software Engineers: Ron LeMaster Sam Reid Chris Malley Michael Dubson Grad students: Wendy Adams Danielle Harlow Chris Keller Noah Podolefsky HS Teacher: Trish Loeblein ~6 full time equivalents Staff: Mindy Gratne y, Linda Wellmann Phet Staff
Engaging and productively fun (interface design, appearance, …) Connection to real world Highly interactive- stuff happening, user controls Explicit visual & conceptual models (experts’) Explore and discover, with productive constraints Achieve deep understanding K.K. Perkins, et al, “PhET: Interactive Simulations for Teaching and Learning Physics”, Physics Teacher (Jan 2006) Design Features and Criteria
Most important element--testing with students 1. Think aloud interviews (~250 hours) Explore with guiding question 2. Study effectiveness in Lecture- demo replacement. (x 3 improvement!) Lab (replacement or supplement) (better than real) Homework many references on research available on phet website
Experts- - really like. Students--Watch without interacting. Don’t like. Misinterpret. Example- of what revealed by interview studies. Radio waves. Initial startup.
Matches research on learning. Cognitive demand. Novices don’t know what to focus on. treat everything equally important, overwhelming Construction of understanding. (animation gets attention, but achieves little learning) Developing expert organization/categorization. Why starting this way works so much better?
Example illustrates important principle: students think and perceive differently from experts Good teaching is presenting material so novice students learn from it, not so looks good to experts! Violated by most simulations (and many lecture demonstrations, figures in texts,…)
Interesting results from interview studies (cont.) the good, the bad, and the evil sim Good sim is extremely effective for wide range of students: understand difficult concepts, can explain & apply to real world situations. Bad sim- very little learned. Awkward distracting interface, boring, confusing, or noninteractive (animation gets attention, not learning) Evil sim--effective at teaching wrong things! Only safe to use sims that have been tested with real students!
Pre-class or pre-lab Activity Lecture/classroom Visual Aids, Interactive Lecture Demos, & Concept tests Labs/Recitations Group activities Homework bits of examples of effectiveness in different settings Sims useful in variety of settings
1. When the string is in position B, instantaneously flat, the velocity of points of the string is... A: zero everywhere. B: positive everywhere. C: negative everywhere. D: depends on the position. A B C snapshots at different times. Wave-on-string sim vs Tygon tube demo 2. At position C, the velocity of points of the string is... A: zero everywhere. B: positive everywhere. C: negative everywhere. D: depends on the position. Correct : 2002 demo: 27% 2003 sim: 71% Correct : 2002 demo: 23 % 2003 sim: 84% Follow-up Concept Tests: Lecture (Non-science Majors Course) Standing waves-- Sim vs. Demonstration show wave on string
Features that make a difference- experts hardly notice, BIG difference for novices 1. Green beads on string that show moves up and down, not sideways. 2. Speed set so novice brain can absorb and make sense of it. 3. Can do controlled changes, most in response to student requests. Sort out what makes a difference and why.
Integrating a sim on a topic (Lect. & HW) (Photoelectric Effect in Modern Physics) (S. McKagan, to be pub.) CourseQ1Q2Q3N UW w/o PT65402026 UW w/ PT75854036 % Correct Univ. of Wash.: Student learning of photoelectric effect deficient Developed & used Photoelectric Tutor (PT) Exam Q: What would happen to current reading if you: Q1: Changed metal. Why? Q2: Double intensity of light. Why? Q3: Increased V across electrodes. Why? CU: Incorporated sim CU Fa05918785189 CU Sp06868884182 show photoelectric effect
What does simulation provide over usual figure and explanation in textbook? (to expert very little, to student, a lot!) 1. simplified circuitry, connect to familiar (light, battery), specific items research showed as problems 2. see direct cause and effect relations 3. explicit visual model explicit visual model-- example 2. cck sim
N D. Finkelstein, et al, “When learning about the real world is better done virtually: a study of substituting computer simulations for laboratory equipment,” PhysRev: ST PER 010103 (Sept 2005) p < 0.001 DC Circuit Final Exam Questions Standard Laboratory (Alg-based Physics, single 2 hours lab): Simulation vs. Real Equipment show cck
Simulation testing microcosm of education research Routinely see examples of principles established in very different contexts. cognitive load construction of understanding build on prior knowledge connections to real world exploration and deep understanding transfer motivation--factors affecting and connections to learning perceptions based on organizational structures, structures change and develop, changes perception. … What works and why- matches research on learning, tested to ensure it works.
Conclusions: Interactive simulations powerful new technology for learning science. But not automatically good… Phet.colorado.edu references on website under “research”
1. Think aloud interviews (~200 hours) Explore with guiding question General results from student interviews* a. Surprisingly consistent responses, particularly on interface. b. Vocabulary very serious hindrance to learning and discussion-- see because simulation removes c. Animation attention, but not thinking. Interactivity thinking & learning. W. K. Adams, et al., A Study of Educational Simulations Part I - Engagement and Learning., A Study of Educational Simulations Part II - Interface Design.,
Intuitive interactivity vital Controls Intuitive when most like hand action –Grab-able Objects –Click and Drag –Sliders to change numeric values Representations –Cartoon-like features scale distortion OK –Good at connecting multiple representations, but proximity and color coding helps (energy sktprk) f. A few important interface characteristics* *more than want to know in Adams et al. papers
Surprising differences in motivation and learning engaged exploration vs. “performance mode” Before topic covered in class- actively interested and engaged in figuring out answer After covering in class (same students, same topic!) struggle to remember what told or read, not use sim to explore and figure out, even with repeated encouragement! Frustrated and unsuccessful! (ed. research microcosm cont.--matches perfectly with results of Dweck psychology studies- “performance mode” )
many other examples of power of visual models all of quantum! (S. McKagan) quantum wave interference lasers Stern-Gerlach MRI tunneling … major impact on student thinking Rethinking how intro quantum mechanics should be taught. Key missing element.
Why these principles revealed so clearly? cognitive load construction of understanding build on prior knowledge connections to real world/relevance motivation--factors affecting and connections to learning … radical speculation… Observations of students using and learning from sims. = Better window into student brain-- eliminate language barriers, establish common frame of reference for discussion. Powerful new tool for education research. Understanding how students best learn topics and hence how to teach. Why interview results so consistent?
Some general principles revealed for how people learn physics Cognitive load important--too much stuff overwhelming, Build up slowly works well. (Radio waves full view) Need to connect to prior thinking-- start using familiar elements (tire pump in ideal gas), build understanding Visual models vital (balloon and sweater, CCK,QM, …) Absorb and make sense only when ask questions and then seek answers. Animation without interactivity draws attention, but not exploration and understanding. Text and explanations usually ignored or misinterpreted unless seeking that particular point.
Research Base Learning Goals Initial Design ~Final Design Redesign Interviews Classroom Use Development Process Team for each sim faculty content expert(s) sci. ed./user expert(s) software engineer
Initial Design & General Approach Research base: Ed. Psych / Cog. Sci: How people learn Educational Software Design Student Conceptions in Physics PhET research findings
Assessment of Design: Usability – easy/intuitive Interpretation – correct/productive Engaged exploration Can students construct understanding of main ideas? Achieve learning goals? GeneralDesignGuidelines
Lecture – Interactive Lecture Demos Demo 4: Sketch position vs time and velocity vs time graphs for when Moving Man: walks steadily towards the tree for 6 seconds, then stands still for 6 seconds, and then towards the house twice as fast as before for 6 seconds. + 0 - Position time Velocity + 0 - time 5 s10 s20 s15 s Thorton and Sokoloff, 1997
Velocity + 0 - time + 0 - Position time 5 s10 s20 s15 s Velocity + 0 - time + 0 - Position time 5 s10 s20 s15 s Velocity + 0 - time + 0 - Position time 5 s10 s20 s15 s AB C Velocity + 0 - time + 0 - Position time 5 s10 s20 s15 s D
Electromagnetic waves: Radio Waves sim Concept Tests and Peer Instruction Lecture – Concept tests The speed of the wave (signal) is measured as… a.how fast this peak moves to the right. b.how fast this peak moves up and down. c.could be a or b
Incorporating a suite of sims (Modern Physics for Engineers) CoursePrePost normalized gainN Eng. Sp0630650.50156 Eng. Fa0532690.55162 Eng. Sp05(30)510.3068 Phys. Sp0644640.3623 Phys. Fa0540530.2154 Phys. Sp05(44)630.3364 Quantum Mechanics Conceptual Survey Reformed with sims Traditional ~ 10 interactive simulations in lecture and homework (clickers, real life applications, conceptual homeworks)
Interactive Recitation Study Reformed large-scale introductory calculus-based physics course with Tutorials “CCK” (N=180)“Real” (N=185) vs. Keller, C.J. et al. Assessing the effectiveness of a computer simulation in conjunction with Tutorials in Introductory Physics in undergraduate physics recitations,", PERC Proceedings 2005
Interactive Recitation Study p=0.01 but end of semester exam, no observable difference