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PERC 2008 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Strategy Writing and Conceptual Gains Among At-Risk Physics Students
Abstract: Many novice physics students studying mechanics, particularly those at risk for poor performance, do not attend to the physical principles behind the particular equations they use to solve problems.  This leads to the well-known novice behavior of preoccupation with the surface features of a problem rather than the cueing on deep conceptual structure exhibited by experts.  A small subset (N=50) of students pre-identified to be at risk for failing an introductory calculus-based physics class (N~1100) participated in a concurrent supplemental course designed to promote conceptual awareness and use in solving problems. The supplement requires students to explicitly identify the operative physical principle needed to solve the problem, provide a short justification explaining what features of the problem imply the principle is applicable, create a written procedure for solving the problem using said principle, and finally generate a fully worked solution with written explanations of each step.  We will discuss performance in: a) a problem categorization task involving sorting problems by operative physical principle and b) examinations in the introductory course.
Abstract Type: Targeted Poster
Targeted Session: Developing Learning Skills in the Physics Classroom to Attend to Diverse Populations

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Adam D. Smith
University of Illinois
Urbana Champaign, IL
and Co-Presenter(s)
Gary Gladding, Jose Mestre and Robert Putman, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign