Colloquium - Bradley Ambrose (Grand Valley State University) - Using Research to Investigate and Enhance Learning in Upper-Division Mechanics

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November 18, 2014
3:00PM - 4:00PM
Location
1080 Physics Research Building

Date Range
Add to Calendar 2014-11-18 15:00:00 2014-11-18 16:00:00 Colloquium - Bradley Ambrose (Grand Valley State University) - Using Research to Investigate and Enhance Learning in Upper-Division Mechanics

Over thirty years of research in physics education has demonstrated that traditionally taught introductory courses have minimal effect in developing conceptual understanding, problem solving skills, and scientific reasoning ability in most students.  More recent research has shown that physics majors, who comprise a small percentage of students who take first-year physics, are not immune to such difficulties.  One major area of this research is being conducted in the context of sophomore/junior level courses in intermediate mechanics, which often represent the first step that physics majors take beyond the introductory sequence.  Results from this research suggest that intermediate mechanics students often hold deeply-seated alternate conceptions, while others suggest loosely or spontaneously connected intuitions.  Furthermore, students often do not connect the physics to the more sophisticated mathematics they are expected to use.  This presentation will highlight results from research conducted at Grand Valley State University, the University of Maine (by co-PI Michael Wittmann) and pilot sites in the Intermediate Mechanics Tutorials project.  These results, taken from the analysis of pretests (ungraded quizzes), written exams, and classroom observations, will illustrate specific student difficulties as well as the development and refinement of guided-inquiry teaching strategies to address these difficulties.  (Supported by NSF grants DUE-0441426 and DUE-0442388.)

1080 Physics Research Building Department of Physics physics@osu.edu America/New_York public
Description

Over thirty years of research in physics education has demonstrated that traditionally taught introductory courses have minimal effect in developing conceptual understanding, problem solving skills, and scientific reasoning ability in most students.  More recent research has shown that physics majors, who comprise a small percentage of students who take first-year physics, are not immune to such difficulties.  One major area of this research is being conducted in the context of sophomore/junior level courses in intermediate mechanics, which often represent the first step that physics majors take beyond the introductory sequence.  Results from this research suggest that intermediate mechanics students often hold deeply-seated alternate conceptions, while others suggest loosely or spontaneously connected intuitions.  Furthermore, students often do not connect the physics to the more sophisticated mathematics they are expected to use.  This presentation will highlight results from research conducted at Grand Valley State University, the University of Maine (by co-PI Michael Wittmann) and pilot sites in the Intermediate Mechanics Tutorials project.  These results, taken from the analysis of pretests (ungraded quizzes), written exams, and classroom observations, will illustrate specific student difficulties as well as the development and refinement of guided-inquiry teaching strategies to address these difficulties.  (Supported by NSF grants DUE-0441426 and DUE-0442388.)