June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Engineering Physics & Physics
There are several factors that have an effect on physics learning for engineering students, a wide range that goes from strong alternate conceptions to factors such as attitudes toward their learning or expectations of the use of physics in their other courses during their undergraduate education or even further, to their professional practice when they graduate. One of the factors that have been proved to have a strong effect when using active learning strategies has been students’ reasoning. There are studies that show physics learning do not correlate to students’ reasoning level for traditional teaching. On the other hand, physics learning has a positive correlation to students’ reasoning level for those taking active learning physics classes. There are several instruments to assess reasoning, such as the Lawson test. This test is well known among the physics education research community and used very often to measure fundamental reasoning elements through simple context situations. The test consists of 12 pairs of multiple-choice items in which, for each pair, the second item consists on the different reasoning students might have to answer the first item. Although Lawson test’s results have been documented for several and different studies, most often the use is limited to analysis using the general score or at most, using the different Lawson test levels of reasoning. The objective of this study was to conduct an in-depth examination of the tests results by analyzing students’ paths for each pair of items. To that end, 500 undergraduate engineering students responded the Lawson Test. For each pair of items, the analysis looked at the most common students' paths when answering the question correctly or incorrectly. By combining the results for each dimension of the test, an in-depth analysis on students' reasoning was performed. Moreover, by characterizing students’ paths, we believe that physics education researchers will have another tool to design activities to develop students’ reasoning skills and therefore, increase students’ physics learning.
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