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Is Conceptual Understanding Compromised By A Problem- Solving Emphasis In An Introductory Physics Course? Documents

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Is Conceptual Understanding Compromised By A Problem- Solving Emphasis In An Introductory Physics Course? 

written by Joshua Ridenour, Gerald Feldman, Raluca E. Teodorescu, Larry Medsker, and Nawal Benmouna

Developing competency in problem solving and enhancing conceptual understanding are primary objectives in introductory physics, and many techniques and tools are available to help instructors achieve them. Pedagogically, we use an easy-to-implement intervention, the ACCESS protocol, to develop and assess problem-solving skills in our SCALE-UP classroom environment for algebra-based physics. Based on our research and teaching experience, an important question has emerged: while primarily targeting improvements in problem-solving and cognitive development, is it necessary that conceptual understanding be compromised? To address this question, we gathered and analyzed information about student abilities, backgrounds, and instructional preferences. We report on our progress and give insights into matching the instructional tools to student profiles in order to achieve optimal learning in group-based active learning. The ultimate goal of our work is to integrate individual student learning needs into a pedagogy that moves students closer to expert-like status in problem solving.

Published January 24, 2013
Last Modified July 1, 2013