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Initial Steps Toward a study on the Effectiveness of Multimedia Learning Modules in Introductory Physics Courses for Engineers

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

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Douglas S Goodman Wentworth Institute of Technology


Franz J. Rueckert Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Dr. Rueckert is an experimental physicist specializing in condensed matter. His research interests include magnetic and electronic properties of perovskite materials and, more recently, novel approaches to physics education.

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James O'Brien Wentworth Institute of Technology

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James G. O'Brien is currently Chair of the department of Sciences and Associate professor of Physics at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, MA. James is currently pursuing educational pedagogies in engineering education through game-ification of education and the design of competitive table top games which engage students in an exciting atmosphere to help facilitate learning of essential physics concepts. Aside from a love of gaming and its role in education, James is also the Vice President of the International Association of Relativistic Dynamics, an international organization of physicists whose research revolves around the study of relativity and gravitational research.

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The argument for using flipped classroom content, specifically multimedia learning modules (MLM), begins with the overwhelming evidence that students rarely, if ever, critically read the textbook before class. The inevitable lack of student preparedness is anathema to creating an active and engaging classroom environment. By having students watch web-based prelecture MLMs and complete basic graded assignments on the prelecture material before class, students should enter class having more than a passing familiarity with the material to be covered in lecture, allowing professors to devote class time to higher cognitive activities. However, the literature has reported mixed results on measurable student gains when MLMs are incorporated into the typical two-semester introductory physics course-sequence (covering classical mechanics in the first semester and classical electricity and magnetism in the second semester). Additionally, there has been minimal physics education research (PER) devoted to studies within the setting of smaller terminal bachelor’s degree engineering programs, since the majority of PER research occurs at large research institutions. Furthermore, we are also interested in experimenting with the effects of introducing a department wide MLM initiative, allowing us to simultaneously study the MLMs’ effectiveness within a wide variety of instructional styles and the practical issues surrounding the highly variable levels of enthusiasm from physics professors for incorporating flipped content into their classroom. This study will be conducted at [Institute Name and Location], a small program that offers terminal bachelors in engineering. The study will be separated into the following two stages: stage one of our study will consist of two professors simultaneously instruct different sections of calculus-based Engineering Physics I and II, both with and without MLMs. In the fall term, we plan to use FlipIt Physics’s MLMs. In the spring term, we will use Pearson’s MLMs. We plan to report on the initial results from stage one at this meeting. Stage two will begin in the the following year, when the majority of the department will adopt one of the two previously mentioned MLM platforms. All participating full-time physics faculty will simultaneously instruct different sections both with and without MLMs. Faculty will not be required, but can opt to change their instruction styles. In addition to partially standardized metrics such as homework, exams, and iclicker performance, we plan to use the standardized Force Concept Inventory (FCI) to measure student gains in the first semester of the introductory sequence and the Concept Survey for Electricity and Magnetism (CSEM) for the second semester. We plan to use these metrics to compare the effectiveness of the MLMs on an individual faculty member basis or on a department wide basis. In stage two, we anticipate approximately 500 student participants per semester.

Goodman, D. S., & Rueckert, F. J., & O'Brien, J. (2017, June), Initial Steps Toward a study on the Effectiveness of Multimedia Learning Modules in Introductory Physics Courses for Engineers Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28531

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