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Evolution of Student Knowledge in a Traditional Introductory Classroom Documents

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Evolution of Student Knowledge in a Traditional Introductory Classroom 

written by Eleanor C. Sayre and Andrew F. Heckler

In the physics education research community, a common format for evaluation is pre- and post-tests. In this study, we collect student test data many times throughout a course, allowing for the measurement of the changes of student knowledge with a time resolution on the order of a few days. The data cover the first two quarters (mechanics, E&M) of a calculus-based introductory sequence populated primarily by first- and second-year engineering majors. To avoid the possibility of test-retest effects, separate and quasi-random subpopulations of students are evaluated every week of the quarter on a variety of tasks. Unsurprisingly for a traditional introductory course, there is little change on many conceptual questions. However, the data suggest that some student ideas peak and decay rapidly during a quarter, a pattern consistent with memory research yet unmeasurable by pre-/post-testing.

Published October 20, 2008
Last Modified May 22, 2009

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