June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Engineering Physics and Physics
Writing has long been shown to be an effective strategy to enhance and motivate student learning. In an introductory physics or engineering class, it can be difficult to employ a writing-based approach. This difficulty arises in large part because these approaches are often seen as time-consuming when it comes to grading. And, these types of classes are already filled with a great deal of homework assignments that primarily focus on problem solving. These homework assignments often serve as the primary mechanism outside of exams and quizzes to assess student learning. Many of these introductory courses also include a laboratory component. The assessment of the laboratory component typically involves a written laboratory report. Because the introductory classes often have a reasonably large number of students in them, it may be challenging to think about adding a writing component to these introductory classes. The assessment of student writing can certainly be a huge drain on one’s time. This paper will focus on a very short writing-based technique used in an introductory physics class at American University during the Fall 2018 semester. This formative assessment took about 5 minutes of class time and the amount of time needed outside of class to score the free-writing assignments was extremely minimal. Following a description of the free-writing activity, two specific examples will be provided. Strategies for quick and easy assessment will also be shared. A unique twist to assessing these assignments involves a Physics Correctness Value (PCV) score. A PCV score provides students with a very simple and quick assessment of their understanding of a particular topic at a particular point in time. These scores can also help students to confront any misconceptions they might have about a given idea or topic in physics. PCV scores can be provided by an instructor, or students can use them to provide feedback to their peers. Examples of how these free-writing activities can be used to boost student understanding and potentially lead to enhanced ability to solve conceptual physics problems will be shared. Time-saving tips for assessing these assignments as well as ideas for adapting this type of writing-based approach in other physics and engineering courses will be shared.
Larkin, T. L. (2019, June), Free-Writing with a TWIST: A Novel Strategy to Enhance Student Learning in Physics Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32858
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