### Session N17: Research on the Learning and Teaching of Physics

 Wednesday, March 23, 2005 8:00AM - 8:12AM N17.00001: LivePhoto Physics Video Analysis Homework Alicia Allbaugh The LivePhoto Physics project is creating homework problems that require students to analyze videos of physical phenomena on their own computers. Some parts of the assignments resemble laboratory activities, some resemble context-rich problems, and some are more like traditional homework problems. After pilot testing with calculus-based introductory students at RIT, the project is beginning the beta testing phase. Sample assignments will be shown during this talk and the status of the testing will be discussed. Wednesday, March 23, 2005 8:12AM - 8:24AM N17.00002: Identifying Student Difficulties with Control of Variables Reasoning Andrew Boudreaux Emerging standards for the science learning of precollege students can be regarded as a statement of what constitutes science literacy.$^{1}$ These standards emphasize basic concepts such as mass, volume and density, and fundamental process skills such as proportional reasoning, the interpretation of graphs and other representations, and the control of variables in the design of experiments. At Western Washington University, the liberal arts physics course is a general university requirement and for many students one of the only physical science course taken between high school and college graduation. Thus the pre-course understandings of these students can be taken as a measure of the level of science literacy attained in precollege education. An effort is underway at Western Washington University to examine what students know and are able to do both before and after course instruction. Preliminary results indicate that in many cases students have serious conceptual and reasoning difficulties with the material. An example that involves the interpretation of experimental results in deciding whether a particular variable influences ($i.e.,$affects) or determines ($i.e.,$predicts) a given result will be discussed. Evidence from written questions will be presented to identify specific student difficulties.$^{1}$See, for example, Project 2061, American Association for the Advancement of Science. 1990. \textit{Science for All Americans.}New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Wednesday, March 23, 2005 8:24AM - 8:36AM N17.00003: Student difficulties with the concept of work in introductory physics Beth Lindsey , Paula R. L. Heron , Peter S. Shaffer , Lillian C. McDermott In order to apply the principle of energy conservation correctly, students need to be able to calculate the work done on a deformable system. The distinction between calculating work on a non-deformable system and on a deformable system is one that is only rarely made in introductory texts and lectures. At the University of Washington, the Physics Education Group has been developing research-based tutorials to supplement traditional instruction in textbooks, lectures, and labs. We will discuss how students frequently misapply the definitions of work that they are taught for non-deformable systems and ways in which this affects instruction on energy conservation. Results from student pretests, post-tests, and individual demonstration interviews will be presented. Wednesday, March 23, 2005 8:36AM - 9:12AM N17.00004: Student conceptual understanding of energy Invited Speaker: Michael Loverude Nearly all physics courses include the concept of energy, and many choose energy as a unifying theme for the course. In this talk, we examine conceptual understanding of energy among student who have completed a diverse array of courses, including a lecture course for non-science majors, an inquiry-based course for pre-service K-8 teachers, and lecture and lab courses for science and engineering majors. We will examine student conceptions of gravitational potential energy and the motion of bodies in a gravitational field and illustrate common incorrect predictions. In addition, we will present results from a series of questions probing student characterization of energy as a material substance. Implications for the development of a model of energy conservation will be discussed. Wednesday, March 23, 2005 9:12AM - 9:24AM N17.00005: Research on Student Learning of Rigid Body Dynamics Paula Heron , Hunter Close , Luanna Ortiz Most students find it difficult to believe that the effect of a force on the center-of-mass acceleration of a rigid body does not depend on how that force affects the rotational motion of that body. In the Physics Education Group at the University of Washington, we are continuing to develop a tutorial to help students with this issue. The results of some post-tests suggest that student learning is improving. However, on some other post-tests, little or no improvement is seen. We will discuss possible reasons for this apparent discrepancy and describe how the results of our research suggest modifications for instruction in this and other areas of the introductory course. Wednesday, March 23, 2005 9:24AM - 9:36AM N17.00006: Student Models of Electric Current and Electric Potential in Activity-Based Physics Trecia Markes With a three-year FIPSE grant, it has been possible at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) to develop and implement activity-based introductory physics at the algebra level. It has generally been recognized that students enter physics classes with misconceptions about current and potential difference in simple series and parallel circuits. Many of these misconceptions persist after instruction. Pretest and posttest responses on the Electric Circuit Concept Test'' (ECCT) are analyzed to determine the models that students use. Responses are divided into expert model (correct answer), one or more student models (approximately equally common incorrect answers), and null model (all other answers) categories. A description of each student model is also given. Changes in the use of these models are used to identify persistent and non-persistent misconceptions. Wednesday, March 23, 2005 9:36AM - 9:48AM N17.00007: Examining student understanding of fundamental concepts in electric circuits MacKenzie R. Stetzer , Peter S. Shaffer , Lillian C. McDermott As part of an ongoing investigation, the Physics Education Group at the University of Washington is continuing to examine student understanding of fundamental concepts in electric circuits. Several new research questions have been designed and administered to a variety of different populations, including undergraduates in introductory calculus-based courses, preservice teachers, and inservice K-12 teachers. In particular, we have been examining the relationship between the ability of students to incorporate an electrical element into a complete circuit and their understanding of the requirements for the element’s internal construction. The results reinforce our findings from previous investigations that many students lack a functional understanding of a complete circuit. The insights we have gained from this research will be discussed in the context of specific examples. Wednesday, March 23, 2005 9:48AM - 10:00AM N17.00008: Student Understanding of Reflection from a Plane Mirror Karen Cummings , Edward Grillo In this talk we explore students' pre-instruction knowledge of conceptual and procedural pieces of knowledge that we believe are prerequisite to one's ability to generate correct light ray diagrams. We do so within the domain of image formation by a plane mirror. The research population is students in an algebra-based, introductory physics course at a medium-sized, urban, public university. Wednesday, March 23, 2005 10:00AM - 10:12AM N17.00009: Student understanding of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics in an introductory physics course Warren M. Christensen , David E. Meltzer We are investigating students' thinking regarding entropy and the second law of thermodynamics in a calculus-based general physics course. Most students enrolled in the class have had previous exposure to thermodynamics in chemistry courses or in high-school physics, and so many of them have specific ideas about these concepts even before instruction begins. To explore these ideas we administered a series of free-response pretest questions during the first week of class, before any instruction on thermodynamics had taken place. The questions probed student conceptions about entropy and its relationship with other thermodynamic properties. We will present an analysis of these data, as well as follow-up interview data that shed additional light on students' thinking. Wednesday, March 23, 2005 10:12AM - 10:24AM N17.00010: Students' reasoning regarding entropy and the second law of thermodynamics in an upper-level thermal physics course David E. Meltzer , Warren M. Christensen We have been extending our investigation of student learning in thermal physics to the upper-level course targeted primarily at junior and senior physics majors. We are monitoring the progress of the students as they attempt to unify the macroscopic and microscopic/statistical viewpoints into a coherent understanding of thermal physics concepts. We will report on initial results of this work regarding the development of students' understanding of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics. Wednesday, March 23, 2005 10:24AM - 10:36AM N17.00011: The Future of Physics in the Undergraduate Education of Biologists: Beyond the Algebra Based Course Charles De Leone The success of quantitative and computational methods of research in the biological sciences has incited calls for change in the undergraduate biological sciences curriculum. This reevaluation of the biology curriculum presents physicists with an opportunity to rethink and rebuild service courses such as the introductory algebra based physics course. Beyond the one-year introductory course, some of the more ambitious curricular reforms include calls for a third semester of physics for students who plan on doing biomedical research. This talk will briefly explore the open question of how we can best serve the evolving needs of our colleagues in biology by considering the calls for change in the biology curriculum such as BIO 2010 and reviewing the current state of the introductory physics course for biologists. In addition, this talk will review the successes and failures of research based courses such as the introductory calculus-based physics course for biologists at Cal State San Marcos. Wednesday, March 23, 2005 10:36AM - 10:48AM N17.00012: A Framework for Understanding Physics Instruction in Secondary and Undergraduate Courses Jacob Clark Blickenstaff As physics curricula are revised to implement techniques widely understood to be effective, instructors and students may react negatively to the changes in methods. Based on observations, interviews and document analysis in three very different physics courses, a general framework for physics instruction is proposed. Understanding how both traditional and reformed curricula are implemented in high school and undergraduate physics classes can reveal key discontinuities between the intended and actual effects. Wednesday, March 23, 2005 10:48AM - 11:00AM N17.00013: Will the No Child Left Behind Act Promote Direct Instruction of Science? Richard Hake Education research in physics at the high school and undergraduate level strongly suggests that interactive engagement enhances students' conceptual understanding much more than traditional Direct Science Instruction (DSI). Similar conclusions can be drawn from K-8 science-education research. Nevertheless, DSI predominates in CA because of the DSI- orientation of the CA State Board of Education and Curriculum Commission [1]. Likewise the U.S. Dept. of Education's (USDE's): (a) DSI-orientation as demonstrated by its recent national-education summit showcasing of the research of Klahr and Nigam [2]; and (b) science achievement testing starting in 2007; threatens to promote DSI nationwide. It might be hoped that NRC's expert science education committees will steer the USDE away from promoting DSI, the antithesis of the NRC's own recommendations for inquiry methods. [1] R.R. Hake. Direct Science Instruction Suffers a Setback in California - Or Does It?" (2004), http://www.physics.indiana.edu/$\sim$hake/DirInstSetback-041104f.pdf. [2] Klahr, D. {\&} M. Nigam. 2004. The equivalence of learning paths in early science instruction: effects of direct instruction and discovery learning" (2004), http://www.psy.cmu.edu/faculty/klahr/papers.html