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2004 PERC Proceedings

Conference Information

Dates: August 4-5, 2004
Location: Sacramento, CA
Theme: Transfer of Learning

Proceedings Information

Editors: Jeffrey Marx, Paula Heron, and Scott Franklin
Published: September 16, 2005
AIP URL: AIP Conference Proceedings 790
Info: Single book; 230 pages; 8.5 X 11 inches, double column
ISBN: 0-7354-0281-7
ISSN (Print): 0094-243X
ISSN (Online): 1551-7616

The 2004 Physics Education Research (PER) Conference brought together researchers in how we teach physics and how it is learned. Student understanding of concepts, the efficacy of different pedagogical techniques, and the importance of student attitudes towards physics and knowledge were all discussed. These Proceedings capture an important snapshot of the PER community, containing a broad collection of research papers of work in progress.

Readership: Physics education researchers (faculty, post-doctoral students, and graduate students); physics faculty with significant teaching responsibilities; high school physics teachers

Table of Contents

Front Matter
Invited Papers (10)
Peer-reviewed Papers (42)
Back Matter

INVITED MANUSCRIPTS (10)

First Author Index

Mestre · Meltzer · Redish · Finkelstein · Price · Singh · Ambrose · Meltzer · Boudreaux · Calder

Invited Papers

Is Transfer Ubiquitous or Rare? New Paradigms for Studying Transfer
Jose P. Mestre
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 3-6, doi:10.1063/1.2084687
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Classic and emerging views of transfer are discussed; examples of research are provided to illustrate each.

J. P. Mestre, Is Transfer Ubiquitous or Rare? New Paradigms for Studying Transfer, 2004 PERC Proceedings [Sacramento, CA, August 4-5, 2004], edited by J. Marx, P. L. Heron, and S. Franklin [AIP Conf. Proc. 790, 3-6 (2005)], doi:10.1063/1.2084687.

How Do You Hit A Moving Target? Addressing The Dynamics Of Students' Thinking
David E. Meltzer
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 7-10, doi:10.1063/1.2084688
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From the standpoint both of research and instruction, the variable and dynamic nature of students' thought processes poses a significant challenge to PER. It is difficult merely to assess and characterize the diverse phases of students' thinking as they gain and express understanding of a concept. (We might call this the "kinematics" of students' thought processes.) Much harder still is uncovering the various factors (instructional method, student characteristics, etc.) that influence and determine the trajectory of students' thinking. (We could call this the "dynamics" of students' thinking.) The task of deciphering the mutual interaction of these factors adds to the challenge. I will outline some of the initial work that has been done along these lines by various researchers, and I will identify some directions for future research that I think might be fruitful for workers in PER.

D. E. Meltzer, How Do You Hit A Moving Target? Addressing The Dynamics Of Students' Thinking, 2004 PERC Proceedings [Sacramento, CA, August 4-5, 2004], edited by J. Marx, P. L. Heron, and S. Franklin [AIP Conf. Proc. 790, 7-10 (2005)], doi:10.1063/1.2084688.

Twenty Questions for PER: How Does It All Fit Together?
Edward F. Redish and Michael C. Wittmann
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 11-14, doi:10.1063/1.2084689
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In physics education research (PER), we have focused our attention for many years on finding ways to improve our instruction and have achieved some notable successes. In this paper, we suggest that the time has come to embed this activity in a more complete and scientific view of PER, one that builds a coherent understanding of the system of teaching and learning in addition to improving the practice of our instruction. We outline five broad topics of interest for PER and discuss questions that need to be addressed in each topic over the next few years. The topics are: the model of the participants, the model of the contexts, the model of the content, the engineering of instruction, and the overall epistemology of PER — How do we decide when we think we know something?

E. F. Redish and M. C. Wittmann, Twenty Questions for PER: How Does It All Fit Together?, 2004 PERC Proceedings [Sacramento, CA, August 4-5, 2004], edited by J. Marx, P. L. Heron, and S. Franklin [AIP Conf. Proc. 790, 11-14 (2005)], doi:10.1063/1.2084689.

Seeding Change: The Challenges of Transfer and Transformation of Educational Practice and Research in Physics (Part I)
Noah D. Finkelstein and Edward Price
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 15-18, doi:10.1063/1.2084690
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Academia appears to do a remarkable job at producing the next generation of research faculty. The long-anticipated shortage of well-qualified researchers has not appeared. At the same time, while there are calls to reform educational practices in college and university classrooms, we are not widely preparing our future faculty to develop or implement these research-based educational practices. What mechanisms exist to foster the development of such practices and promote the field of PER more generally? These coupled papers examine the interrelated problems of supporting the development of the field, and the `transfer' of what is known from PER to the more general populace of physics instructors. The first of these coupled papers outlines a framework of professionalism and faculty attitudes that is applied in the second paper in order to examine two programs designed to address the challenges of including education into the broader physics culture.

N. D. Finkelstein and E. Price, Seeding Change: The Challenges of Transfer and Transformation of Educational Practice and Research in Physics (Part I), 2004 PERC Proceedings [Sacramento, CA, August 4-5, 2004], edited by J. Marx, P. L. Heron, and S. Franklin [AIP Conf. Proc. 790, 15-18 (2005)], doi:10.1063/1.2084690.

Seeding Change: The Challenges of Transfer and Transformation of Educational Practice and Research in Physics (Part II)
Edward Price and Noah D. Finkelstein
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 19-22, doi:10.1063/1.2084691
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These coupled papers examine the interrelated problems of supporting the development of PER, and the `transfer' of what is known from PER to the more general populace of physics instructors. Two programs are examined to highlight these interrelated issues: the Postdoctoral Fellowships in Mathematics Science Engineering and Technology Education and the Preparing Future Physics Faculty Program. Data on successes and failures of these programs are presented and analyzed from a perspective of professionalism and attitudes and beliefs outlined in the first paper. We claim such programs set the seeds for inclusion of education and education research in the broader culture of physics.

E. Price and N. D. Finkelstein, Seeding Change: The Challenges of Transfer and Transformation of Educational Practice and Research in Physics (Part II), 2004 PERC Proceedings [Sacramento, CA, August 4-5, 2004], edited by J. Marx, P. L. Heron, and S. Franklin [AIP Conf. Proc. 790, 19-22 (2005)], doi:10.1063/1.2084691.

Transfer of Learning in Quantum Mechanics
Chandralekha Singh
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 23-26, doi:10.1063/1.2084692
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We investigate the difficulties that undergraduate students in quantum mechanics courses have in transferring learning from previous courses or within the same course from one context to another by administering written tests and conducting individual interviews. Quantum mechanics is abstract and its paradigm is very different from the classical one. A good grasp of the principles of quantum mechanics requires creating and organizing a knowledge structure consistent with the quantum postulates. Previously learned concepts such as the principle of superposition and probability can be useful in quantum mechanics if students are given opportunity to build associations between new and prior knowledge. We also discuss the need for better alignment between quantum mechanics and modern physics courses taken previously because semi-classical models can impede internalization of the quantum paradigm in more advanced courses.

C. Singh, Transfer of Learning in Quantum Mechanics, 2004 PERC Proceedings [Sacramento, CA, August 4-5, 2004], edited by J. Marx, P. L. Heron, and S. Franklin [AIP Conf. Proc. 790, 23-26 (2005)], doi:10.1063/1.2084692.

A Repeat Performance? Challenges In Developing Robust Conceptual Understanding in Quantum Mechanics
Bradley S. Ambrose
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 27-30, doi:10.1063/1.2084693
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Ongoing physics education research (PER) at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) is guiding the development of instructional materials for teaching modern physics. Results from this project can help address the question: To what extent should we expect upper-level physics students to be able to apply concepts previously covered in class—even those addressed through PER-based instruction at the advanced level—to different situations? Extensive research at the introductory level has already revealed that such transfer is extremely difficult for beginning students to do on their own. Preliminary results from this project suggest that, even among upper level students, specific conceptual and reasoning difficulties must be addressed explicitly and at multiple instances during instruction.

B. S. Ambrose, A Repeat Performance? Challenges In Developing Robust Conceptual Understanding in Quantum Mechanics, 2004 PERC Proceedings [Sacramento, CA, August 4-5, 2004], edited by J. Marx, P. L. Heron, and S. Franklin [AIP Conf. Proc. 790, 27-30 (2005)], doi:10.1063/1.2084693.

Student Learning In Upper-Level Thermal Physics: Comparisons And Contrasts With Students In Introductory Courses
David E. Meltzer
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 31-34, doi:10.1063/1.2084694
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We found that students in an upper-level thermal physics course were in general quicker than introductory students at grasping and applying fundamental concepts. Upper-level students seemed, in general, more receptive to employing qualitative reasoning using multiple representations, and capable of using it more effectively than introductory students. In addition, upper-level students were better able to utilize guided-inquiry curricular materials in the sense of reasoning with greater depth and grasping more subtle issues. However, although the overall level of preparation and ability was higher in the upper-level course, the broad range of preparation represented among the students presented various practical challenges to implementing active-learning instructional strategies. Moreover, even quite capable upper-level students would falter unexpectedly and unpredictably on various conceptual difficulties that are common among introductory students. The unpredictable and inconsistent nature of this effect demonstrated that instructors must always be prepared to detect and address such difficulties in upper-level courses.

D. E. Meltzer, Student Learning In Upper-Level Thermal Physics: Comparisons And Contrasts With Students In Introductory Courses, 2004 PERC Proceedings [Sacramento, CA, August 4-5, 2004], edited by J. Marx, P. L. Heron, and S. Franklin [AIP Conf. Proc. 790, 31-34 (2005)], doi:10.1063/1.2084694.

Tracing Difficulties With Relativistically Invariant Mass To Difficulties With Vector Addition Of Momentum In Newtonian Contexts
Andrew Boudreaux
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 35-38, doi:10.1063/1.2084695
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For effective transfer of knowledge, it is necessary to break the transfer of conceptual difficulties. In physics courses that include special relativity, students are expected to relate the invariant mass of a system to the energy and momentum of the individual particles that make it up. Many have difficulty doing so. Student responses indicate that some difficulties stem from a failure to treat energy-momentum as a four-vector. Introductory students experience related difficulties in a purely non-relativistic context: many fail to take the vector nature of three-momentum into account when relating the momentum of a system to the momenta of its constituents. Results suggest that these difficulties are widespread, and not necessarily resolved through the study of advanced topics.

A. Boudreaux, Tracing Difficulties With Relativistically Invariant Mass To Difficulties With Vector Addition Of Momentum In Newtonian Contexts, 2004 PERC Proceedings [Sacramento, CA, August 4-5, 2004], edited by J. Marx, P. L. Heron, and S. Franklin [AIP Conf. Proc. 790, 35-38 (2005)], doi:10.1063/1.2084695.

Transfer of Learning through Gender and Ethnicity
Austin Calder and Emily A. West
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 39-41, doi:10.1063/1.2084696
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This brief report compared the performance by gender and ethnicity of 6720 students in an introductory course for the life science majors: Physics 7A and 7B. We compared performance between ethnicities and genders using Z scores taken by quarter. We also performed a binary analysis with achievement of a high grade in 7B as the dependent variable. The results indicate that on average males score higher than females in every ethnic group, and that the only statistically significant ethnic differences in our binary analysis were White and African American, The model indicated that being female reduced odds of achieving a high grade in 7B by one half. Odds were reduced by more than half for African Americans and increased by three halves for White. We also compared gender equity over 18 quizzes. Equity favored quiz questions that are more open ended; this is consistent with some earlier findings in studies of gender equity in introductory physics courses.

A. Calder and E. A. West, Transfer of Learning through Gender and Ethnicity, 2004 PERC Proceedings [Sacramento, CA, August 4-5, 2004], edited by J. Marx, P. L. Heron, and S. Franklin [AIP Conf. Proc. 790, 39-41 (2005)], doi:10.1063/1.2084696.

PEER REVIEWED MANUSCRIPTS (42)

First Author Index

Adams · Kim · Lindell · McCaskey · Perkins · Singh · Allain · Allbaugh · Loverude · Menchen · Aubrecht II · Demaree · Messina · Finkelstein · Harlow · Henderson · Dancy · Hinrichs · Kohl · Marx · McKinnon · Murthy · Pollock · Sandifer · Warren · Brookes · Corpuz · Gray · Koleci · Lee · Mateycik · Ozimek · Rosengrant · Yerushalmi · Cummings · Beuckman · Bonham · Hsu · Wagner · Warnakulasooriya · Dykstra

Peer-reviewed Papers

The Design and Validation of the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey
Wendy K. Adams, Katherine K. Perkins, Michael Dubson, Noah D. Finkelstein, and Carl E. Wieman
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 45-48, doi:10.1063/1.2084697
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Development of an Instrument for Evaluating Anxiety Caused by Cognitive Conflict
Yeounsoo Kim and Lei Bao
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 49-52, doi:10.1063/1.2084698
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Measuring Conceptual Change in College Students' Understanding of Lunar Phases
Rebecca S. Lindell
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 53-56, doi:10.1063/1.2084699
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Probing Students' Epistemologies Using Split Tasks
Timothy L. McCaskey and Andrew Elby
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 57-60, doi:10.1063/1.2084700
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Correlating Student Beliefs with Student Learning Using the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey
Katherine K. Perkins, Wendy K. Adams, Steven J. Pollock, Noah D. Finkelstein, and Carl E. Wieman
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 61-64, doi:10.1063/1.2084701
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Student understanding of Symmetry and Gauss's law
Chandralekha Singh
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 65-68, doi:10.1063/1.2084702
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Rate of Change and Electric Potential
Rhett J. Allain and Robert J. Beichner
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 69-72, doi:10.1063/1.2084703
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Diminishing Forces - Implications for Contextual Dependence of a Misconception
Alicia R. Allbaugh
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 73-76, doi:10.1063/1.2084704
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Student Understanding Of Gravitational Potential Energy And The Motion Of Bodies In A Gravitational Field
Michael E. Loverude
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 77-80, doi:10.1063/1.2084705
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Student Understanding Of Sound Propagation: Research And Curriculum Development
Katherine Menchen and John R. Thompson
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 81-84, doi:10.1063/1.2084706
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Contrasts in Student Understanding of Simple E&M Questions in Two Countries
Gordon J. Aubrecht, II and Cristian Raduta
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 85-88, doi:10.1063/1.2084707
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Grounding Inquiry-based Teaching and Learning Methods in Physics Experiences for Prospective Elementary Teachers
Gordon J. Aubrecht, II
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 89-92, doi:10.1063/1.2084708
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Virtual reality in introductory physics laboratories
Dedra Demaree, Stephen Stonebraker, Wenhui Zhao, and Lei Bao
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 93-96, doi:10.1063/1.2084709
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Helping Preservice Teachers Implement and Assess Research-based Instruction in K-12 Classrooms
Donna Messina, Lezlie S. DeWater, and MacKenzie R. Stetzer
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 97-100, doi:10.1063/1.2084710
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Can Computer Simulations Replace Real Equipment in Undergraduate Laboratories?
Noah D. Finkelstein, Katherine K. Perkins, Wendy K. Adams, Patrick B. Kohl , and Noah S. Podolefsky
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 101-104, doi:10.1063/1.2084711
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Learning Physics by Listening To Children
Danielle Harlow and Valerie K. Otero
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 105-108, doi:10.1063/1.2084712
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Teaching, Learning and Physics Education Research: Views of Mainstream Physics Professors
Charles R. Henderson and Melissa H. Dancy
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 109-112, doi:10.1063/1.2084713
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Beyond the Individual Instructor: Systemic Constraints in the Implementation of Research-Informed Practices
Melissa H. Dancy and Charles R. Henderson
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 113-116, doi:10.1063/1.2084714
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Using the System Schema Representational Tool to Promote Student Understanding of Newton's Third Law
Brant E. Hinrichs
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 117-120, doi:10.1063/1.2084715
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Representational Format, Student Choice, and Problem Solving in Physics
Patrick B. Kohl and Noah D. Finkelstein
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 121-124, doi:10.1063/1.2084716
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Attitudes of Undergraduate General Science Students Toward Learning Science and the Nature of Science
Jeffrey Marx, Shabbir M. Mian, and Vasilis Pagonis
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 125-128, doi:10.1063/1.2084717
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Preliminary Results of Gender Equity Variations in a Large Active-Learning Introductory Physics Course Due to Laboratory Activity Instructions
Mark L. McKinnon and Wendell H. Potter
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 129-132, doi:10.1063/1.2084718
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Development of Scientific Abilities in a Large Class
Sahana Murthy and Eugenia Etkina
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 133-136, doi:10.1063/1.2084719
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No Single Cause: Learning Gains, Student Attitudes, and the Impacts of Multiple Effective Reforms
Steven J. Pollock
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 137-140, doi:10.1063/1.2084720
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Teacher and Curriculum Factors that Influence Middle School Students' Sense-Making Discussions of Force/Motion
Cody Sandifer
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 141-144, doi:10.1063/1.2084721
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The Role of Evaluative Abilities in Physics Learning
Aaron R. Warren
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 145-148, doi:10.1063/1.2084722
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Concerning Scientific Discourse about Heat
David T. Brookes, George K. Horton, A. Van Heuvelen, and Eugenia Etkina
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 149-152, doi:10.1063/1.2084723
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Introductory College Physics Students' Explanations Of Friction And Related Phenomena At The Microscopic Level
Edgar D. Corpuz and N. Sanjay Rebello
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 153-156, doi:10.1063/1.2084724
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Transfer Between Paired Problems In An Interview
Kara E. Gray and N. Sanjay Rebello
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 157-160, doi:10.1063/1.2084725
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Sample Exams And Transfer In Introductory Mechanics
Carolann Koleci
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 161-164, doi:10.1063/1.2084726
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Alternative conceptions, memory, & mental models in physics education
Gyoungho Lee, Jongho Shin, Jiyeon Park, Sangho Song, Yeounsoo Kim, and Lei Bao
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 165-168, doi:10.1063/1.2084727
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Student Descriptions of Refraction and Optical Fibers
Frances Mateycik, Doris J. Wagner, Janet J. Rivera, and Sybillyn Jennings
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 169-172, doi:10.1063/1.2084728
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Retention and Transfer from Trigonometry to Physics
Darryl J. Ozimek, Paula V. Engelhardt, Andrew G. Bennett, and N. Sanjay Rebello
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 173-176, doi:10.1063/1.2084729
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Free-Body Diagrams: Necessary or Sufficient?
David Rosengrant, A. Van Heuvelen, and Eugenia Etkina
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 177-180, doi:10.1063/1.2084730
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Teachers' Investigation of Students' Self-Perceptions Regarding Physics Learning and Problem-Solving
Edit Yerushalmi, Bat-Sheva Eylon, and Rachel Seggev
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 181-184, doi:10.1063/1.2084731
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Conceptual Underpinnings of Students' Ability to Understand Reflections from a Plane Mirror
Karen Cummings and Edward Grillo
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 185-188, doi:10.1063/1.2084732
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A Web-based Tool For The Analysis Of Concept Inventory Data
Joseph Beuckman, Scott V. Franklin, and Rebecca S. Lindell
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 189-192, doi:10.1063/1.2084733
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Feedback With Web-based Homework And PADs
Scott W. Bonham
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 193-196, doi:10.1063/1.2084734
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Computer Problem-Solving Coaches
Leonardo Hsu and Kenneth Heller
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 197-200, doi:10.1063/1.2084735
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Using Electronic Interviews to Explore Student Understanding
Doris J. Wagner, Janet J. Rivera, Frances Mateycik, and Sybillyn Jennings
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 201-204, doi:10.1063/1.2084736
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Time to completion reveals problem-solving transfer
Rasil Warnakulasooriya and David E. Pritchard
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 205-208, doi:10.1063/1.2084737
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How We Think about and Prepare to Teach Physics
Dewey Dykstra
AIP Conf. Proc. 790, pp. 209-212, doi:10.1063/1.2084738
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