transforming_physics_education

16 the inset shows a figure accompanying a typical

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Unformatted text preview: tested research-based practices.16 The inset shows a figure accompanying a typical FCI question: Students are asked which path the ball will follow upon exiting the tube. (Adapted from ref. 7.) nized, cognitive principles about how people learn.10 Our third topic is research on students’ general beliefs about physics and problem solving in physics. Research groups including our own have studied these beliefs through extensive interviews and well-tested surveys.11 These surveys measure where students’ thinking lies on the expert–novice scale discussed above, and how their views are changed by taking a physics course. The surveys have now been given to many thousands of students at the beginning and end of introductory physics courses at many different institutions. After instruction, students, on average, are found to be less expert-like in their thinking than before. They see physics as less connected to the real world, less interesting, and more as something to be memorized without understanding. This is true in almost all courses, including those with teaching practices that have substantially improved conceptual mastery. If it is any consolation to physics teachers, we have measured similar results from introductory chemistry courses. The examples we have discussed are just a few from a large body of research on the effectiveness of the traditional approach to teaching physics. The definitive conclusion is that no matter how “good” the teacher, typical students in a traditionally taught course are learning by rote, memorizing facts and recipes for problem solving; they are not gaining a true understanding. Equally unfortunate is that in spite of the best efforts of teachers, typical students are also learning that physics is boring and irrelevant to understanding the world around them. A better approach Is there a way to teach physics that does not produce such dismal results for the typical student? Our answer, and that of many others doing research in physics education, is unequivocally yes. Many of the same methods that have worked so well for advancing physics research also improve physics education. These methods include basing teaching practices and principles on research and data rather than on tradition or anecdote; using new technology tools effectively; and disseminating and copying proven results. Considerable evidence shows that this approach works. Classes using research-based teaching practices have shown dramatic increases in retention of information, doubling of scores on the FCI and other conceptual tests, and elimination of negative shifts in beliefs about physics. November 2005 Physics Today 37 Figure 3. Counterintuitive facts are not retained by lecture students. Fifteen minutes after being explicitly told that it is the back of the violin that produces the sound, students were given the boxed multiple-choice question. The histogram of their respons...
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This note was uploaded on 12/20/2011 for the course PHYS 208 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '08 term at University of Delaware.

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