June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Educational Research and Methods
13.712.1 - 13.712.14
Implementing research–based instructional materials to promote coherence in physics knowledge for the urban STEM student
Funding from the National Science Foundation – Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) Program has allowed the physics program at Chicago State University to make major changes to the algebra and calculus-based physics classes through the implementation of innovative, research-based instructional materials. This instructional reform effort seeks to (1) improve learning for all students in the introductory physics classes at the inner-city university, (2) involve undergraduate science majors in the implementation, assessment, and creation of innovative teaching materials, and (3) document the effectiveness of the implementation in promoting student learning through the use of multiple assessment instruments.
Almost all students enrolled in these introductory courses are majors in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. In order for these students to succeed as they move through their academic and professional careers, they require preparation that goes well beyond what the traditionally taught physics course often provides. Rather than developing a skill set that involves pattern matching and formula manipulation, students need to be trained in sense making and need to be challenged by problems that require deep conceptual understanding. In addition, students need to be able to utilize and go back and forth between different types of representations that those in the STEM disciplines regularly use to convey information about physical systems.
In this paper, we provide an overview of the project, discuss the departmental involvement in promoting the understanding of physics for the STEM student and provide an example of the research we are conducting to document the successes and challenges we face as the project progresses. We also highlight our research efforts in identifying the struggle students face in bridging between different types of knowledge and different types of representations.
There are a number of model instructional materials in physics that have proven to be effective in promoting student understanding in the introductory physics course. Despite the fact that these materials are widely used, there is relatively little research documenting the effectiveness of these materials with different populations of students.1 At Chicago State University (CSU), the implementation of research-based instructional materials has served as a vehicle for understanding the issues that the student at a comprehensive university faces when learning introductory physics. Because of the wide range of differences that exist among students at different universities, it is important to document the specific issues that each population faces and determine where specific materials succeed and fail. Our work utilizes the introductory algebra-based physics class (taken mostly by biology majors) and the calculus-based physics course (taken mostly by physical science and engineering majors) as a context for the research on student learning.
Sabella, M., & Barr, S. (2008, June), Implementing Research–Based Instructional Materials To Promote Coherence In Physics Knowledge For The Urban Stem Student. Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3113
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