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Abstract Title: Facilitating Enhanced Student Interest through Increased Autonomy in the Classroom
Abstract: We perform an experiment involving 300 students in an active-learning introductory physics course for biological science undergraduates at the University of California, Davis.  The students are divided into 10 discussion/labs (DLs) that meet for 140 minutes twice a week and are taught by five teaching assistants (TAs).  Five DLs are "autonomy-supportive" in that during the second half of each class the students choose how to apply or clarify what they have learned.  We compare this experimental group to a control group of five "traditional" active-engagement DLs.  Each TA teaches one autonomy-supportive and one traditional DL.  We hypothesize that increased autonomy-support will help improve attitudes, increase interest, and enhance performance.  We measure these effects with specially designed surveys and grades.  This study could have important implications for introductory physics class design by testing whether the positive effects of increased student autonomy in class outweigh the benefits of the instructor making most of the choices for the students.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Nicholas Hall
University of California, Davis
4400 Solano Park Circle Apt 1413
Davis, CA 95616
Phone: 530 304 2822
Co-Author(s)
and Co-Presenter(s)
David Webb - University of California, Davis