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2010 PERC Proceedings

Conference Information

Dates: July 21-22, 2010
Location: Portland, OR
Theme: Uncovering the hidden curriculum: Research on scientific, critical, and reflective thinking in the physics classroom

Proceedings Information

Editors: Chandralekha Singh, N.Sanjay Rebello, and Mel Sabella
Published: August 24, 2010
AIP URL: AIP Conference Proceedings 1289
Info: Single book; 372 pages; 8.5 X 11 inches, double column
ISBN: 978-0-7354-0844-9
ISSN (Print): 0094-243X
ISSN (Online): 1551-7616

The theme of the 2010 Physics Education Research (PER) Conference was Uncovering the hidden curriculum: Research on scientific, critical, and reflective thinking in the physics classroom. Physics education researchers are examining a broad spectrum of abilities that can be categorized as scientific thinking (i.e., reasoning skills and argumentation practices that feature significantly in physics); critical thinking (i.e., general logical reasoning as applied to, or necessary for, doing physics); and reflective thinking (i.e., thinking about one’s own thinking and learning processes). By focusing on research related to instructional goals that transcend specific subject matter, PERC 2010 provided an opportunity to highlight progress in this area and to identify important avenues for continued work.

Readership: Physics education researchers (faculty, post-doctoral students, and graduate/undergraduate students); researchers in fields close to Physics Education, such as cognitive science, chemistry education, biology education; physics faculty at undergraduate and graduate levels; high school physics teachers

Table of Contents

Front Matter
Invited Papers (16)
Peer-reviewed Papers (71)
Back Matter

INVITED MANUSCRIPTS (16)

First Author Index

Allie · Brookes · Close · Coletta · Demaree · Harlow · Li · Lin · Maloney · Manogue · Mason · Nguyen · Redish · Sabella · Sadaghiani · van Zee

Invited Papers

Toward Meaning and Scientific Thinking in the Traditional Freshman Laboratory: Opening the "Idea Space"
Saalih Allie and Dedra Demaree
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 1-4, doi:10.1063/1.3515198
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Experimentation appears to be an ideal context in which several key aspects of scientific thinking can be addressed. However, the traditional freshman laboratory does not appear to be successful in doing so. This paper argues that this has much to do with the way in which tasks are formulated. We propose a simple descriptive model based on the notion of the “idea space” that can be used to analyze task formulation that can promote meaningful critical thinking. A number of factors that affect the size of the idea space are discussed, such as conceptual metaphor and the perceived nature of questioning from a socio-cultural perspective, described in terms of knowledge and information flow.

S. Allie and D. Demaree, Toward Meaning and Scientific Thinking in the Traditional Freshman Laboratory: Opening the "Idea Space", 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 1-4 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515198.

Structuring Classroom Discourse Using Formative Assessment Rubrics
David T. Brookes and Yuhfen Lin
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 5-8, doi:10.1063/1.3515248
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There has been substantial attention paid to students’ abilities to engage in a scientific discussion and think critically in a science class. But what constitutes critical thinking in physics? We will discuss a view that critical thinking involves participants (students) becoming increasingly involved in a specialized form of argument that has fixed epistemic rules, but whose rules are seldom made explicit within the physics community that uses them. We will then discuss one method of making the epistemic rules of physics explicit for students by using formative assessment rubrics. We will provide some examples of how these rubrics can be implemented in a physics class and how students were able to transfer critical thinking abilities beyond the physics classroom.

D. T. Brookes and Y. Lin, Structuring Classroom Discourse Using Formative Assessment Rubrics, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 5-8 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515248.

Using the Algebra Project Method to Regiment Discourse in an Energy Course for Teachers
Hunter G. Close, Lezlie S. DeWater, Eleanor W. Close, Rachel E. Scherr, and Sarah B. McKagan
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 9-12, doi:10.1063/1.3515259
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The Algebra Project, led by R. Moses, provides access to understanding of algebra for middle school students and their teachers by guiding them to participate actively and communally in the construction of regimented symbolic systems. We have extended this work by applying it to the professional development of science teachers (K-12) in energy. As we apply the Algebra Project method, the focus of instruction shifts from the learning of specific concepts within the broad theme of energy to the gradual regimentation of the interplay between learners' observation, thinking, graphic representation, and communication. This approach is suitable for teaching energy, which by its transcendence can seem to defy a linear instructional sequence. The learning of specific energy content thus becomes more learner- directed and unpredictable, though at no apparent cost to its extent. Meanwhile, teachers seem empowered by this method to see beginners as legitimate participants in the scientific process.

H. G. Close, L. S. DeWater, E. W. Close, R. E. Scherr, and S. B. McKagan, Using the Algebra Project Method to Regiment Discourse in an Energy Course for Teachers, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 9-12 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515259.

Developing Thinking and Problem Solving Skills in Introductory Mechanics
Vincent P. Coletta and Jeffery A. Phillips
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 13-16, doi:10.1063/1.3515181
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We report on the Thinking in Physics (TIP) project, which helps students develop basic skills necessary for learning physics. We describe methods used to improve students’ thinking and problem-solving skills in TIP introductory mechanics classes, and the effect these methods have had on student learning.

V. P. Coletta and J. A. Phillips, Developing Thinking and Problem Solving Skills in Introductory Mechanics, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 13-16 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515181.

Applying ISLE Ideas to Active Engagement in the Spins Paradigm
Dedra Demaree
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 17-20, doi:10.1063/1.3515192
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Oregon State University’s (OSU) upper-division physics courses rearrange the traditional content to center around conceptual and mathematical ideas, with the aim of having students engage in authentic practices of physics in an interactive environment. The physics majors’ introduction to Quantum Mechanics is the Quantum Measurements and Spin Paradigm (Spins). I taught this course using the existing activities in my first year at OSU. I am heavily influenced by the Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE) curriculum model that mirrors the goals of these upper- division courses. Having since spent two years implementing ISLE in the lower-division courses, when I taught the Spins course this year I modified some activities to align with ISLE methodology. I will discuss how the constructivist, scientific-abilities approach of ISLE helped me personalize the Spins course by providing connectivity between activities and a stronger emphasis on the goals surrounding preparing our students to think like physicists.

D. Demaree, Applying ISLE Ideas to Active Engagement in the Spins Paradigm, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 17-20 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515192.

Uncovering the Hidden Decisions that Shape Curricula
Danielle Harlow
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 21-24, doi:10.1063/1.3515205
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Developing explanatory models is a central practice to scientific inquiry. When students create and test explanatory models for scientific phenomenon, they develop content knowledge, knowledge of the nature of science, and creative thinking skills. Unfortunately, such instruction rarely occurs in K-12 science. This is, in part, because teachers do not have the opportunity to develop sophisticated understandings of the process of modeling, but also because teaching in this way requires teachers to make real-time instructional decisions that are responsive to students’ ideas. This is challenging for teachers, especially because this decision process is often invisible. In this talk, I will highlight the importance of providing opportunities for sophisticated science thinking for our youngest learners and consider how uncovering the decisions that shape physics courses for teachers may benefit their future students.

D. Harlow, Uncovering the Hidden Decisions that Shape Curricula, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 21-24 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515205.

Promoting and Studying Deep-Level Discourse During Large-Lecture Introductory Physics
Sissi L. Li and Dedra Demaree
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 25-28, doi:10.1063/1.3515217
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At Oregon State University, the introductory calculus-based physics sequence utilizes social engagement as a learning tool. The reformed curriculum is modeled after the Interactive Science Learning Environment from Rutgers University, and makes use of Peer Instruction as a pedagogical tool to facilitate interactions. Over the past two years we have utilized a number of techniques to understand how to facilitate activities that promote productive discussion within the large lecture classroom. We specifically seek student discussion that goes beyond agreement on conceptual questions, encouraging deeper discussions such as what assumptions are appropriate, or how different assumptions would change the chosen answer to a given question. We have quantitative analysis of engagement based on video data, qualitative analysis of dialogue from audio data, and classroom observations by an external researcher. In this paper we share a subset of what we have learned about how to engage students in deep-level discussions during lecture.

S. L. Li and D. Demaree, Promoting and Studying Deep-Level Discourse During Large-Lecture Introductory Physics, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 25-28 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515217.

Using Analogy to Solve a Three-Step Physics Problem
Shih-Yin Lin and Chandralekha Singh
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 29-32, doi:10.1063/1.3515228
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In a companion paper, we discuss students’ ability to take advantage of what they learn from a solved problem and transfer their learning to solve a quiz problem that has different surface features but the same underlying physics principles. Here, we discuss students’ ability to perform analogical reasoning between another pair of problems. Both the problems can be solved using the same physics principles. However, the solved problem provided was a two- step problem (which can be solved by decomposing it into two sub-problems) while the quiz problem was a three-step problem. We find that it is challenging for students to extend what they learned from a two-step problem to solve a three-step problem.

S. Lin and C. Singh, Using Analogy to Solve a Three-Step Physics Problem, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 29-32 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515228.

nTIPERs: Tasks to Help Students “Unpack” Aspects of Newtonian Mechanics
David Maloney, Curtis J. Hieggelke, and Stephen E. Kanim
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 33-36, doi:10.1063/1.3515239
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nTIPERs (Newtonian Tasks Inspired by Physics Education Research), are tasks intended to strengthen students’ conceptual understanding of topics in introductory mechanics. These tasks can be used individually as in-class assignments, as homework, or as evaluation instruments, and are especially appropriate for incremental adoption by instructors who wish to strengthen the conceptual focus of their introductory courses. We will present examples of several nTIPER tasks related to common student difficulties with different aspects of the concept of force: Force as proportional to velocity; force as a property of an object; and force calculated from mass times acceleration. We will also present ideas for how to use nTIPERs.

D. Maloney, C. J. Hieggelke, and S. E. Kanim, nTIPERs: Tasks to Help Students “Unpack” Aspects of Newtonian Mechanics, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 33-36 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515239.

Upper-Division Activities That Foster “Thinking Like A Physicist”
Corinne A. Manogue, Leonard Cerny, Elizabeth Gire, Donald B. Mountcastle, Edward Price, and Emily H. van Zee
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 37-40, doi:10.1063/1.3515242
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In this targeted poster session, curriculum developers presented their favorite upper-division activity to small groups of session participants. The developers and participants were asked to identify hidden curriculum goals related to “thinking like a physicist” and discuss how the different styles of activities might help students achieve these goals.

C. A. Manogue, L. Cerny, E. Gire, D. B. Mountcastle, E. Price, and E. H. v. Zee, Upper-Division Activities That Foster “Thinking Like A Physicist”, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 37-40 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515242.

Using Reflection with Peers to Help Students Learn Effective Problem Solving Strategies
Andrew J. Mason and Chandralekha Singh
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 41-44, doi:10.1063/1.3515243
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We describe a study in which introductory physics students engage in reflection with peers about problem solving. The recitations for an introductory physics course with 200 students were broken into the “Peer Reflection" (PR) group and the traditional group. Each week in recitation, students in the PR group reflected in small teams on selected problems from the homework. The graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants (TAs) in the PR group recitations provided guidance and coaching to help students learn effective problem solving heuristics. In the recitations for the traditional group, students had the opportunity to ask the graduate TA questions about the homework before they took a weekly quiz. On the final exam with only multiple-choice questions, the PR group drew diagrams on more problems than the traditional group, even when there was no external reward for doing so. Since there was no partial credit for drawing the diagrams on the scratch books, students did not draw diagrams simply to get credit for the effort shown and must value the use of diagrams for solving problems if they drew them. We also find that, regardless of whether the students belonged to the traditional or PR groups, those who drew more diagrams for the multiple-choice questions outperformed those who did not draw them.

A. J. Mason and C. Singh, Using Reflection with Peers to Help Students Learn Effective Problem Solving Strategies, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 41-44 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515243.

Facilitating Students’ Problem Solving across Multiple Representations in Introductory Mechanics
Dong-Hai Nguyen, Elizabeth Gire, and N. Sanjay Rebello
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 45-48, doi:10.1063/1.3515244
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Solving problems presented in multiple representations is an important skill for future physicists and engineers. However, such a task is not easy for most students taking introductory physics courses. We conducted teaching/learning interviews with 20 students in a first-semester calculus-based physics course on several topics in introductory mechanics. These interviews helped identify the common difficulties students encountered when solving physics problems posed in multiple representations as well as the hints that help students overcome those difficulties. We found that most representational difficulties arise due to the lack of students’ ability to associate physics knowledge with corresponding mathematical knowledge. Based on those findings, we developed, tested and refined a set of problem-solving exercises to help students learn to solve problems in graphical and equational representations. We present our findings on students’ common difficulties with graphical and equational representations, the problem-solving exercises and their impact on students’ problem solving abilities.

D. Nguyen, E. Gire, and N. S. Rebello, Facilitating Students’ Problem Solving across Multiple Representations in Introductory Mechanics, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 45-48 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515244.

Introducing students to the culture of physics: Explicating elements of the hidden curriculum
Edward F. Redish
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 49-52, doi:10.1063/1.3515245
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When we teach physics to prospective scientists and engineers we are teaching more than the "facts" of physics – more, even, than the methods and concepts of physics. We are introducing them to a complex culture - a mode of thinking and the cultural code of behavior of a community of practicing scientists. This culture has components that are often part of our hidden curriculum: epistemology - how we decide that we know something; ontology - how we parse the observable world into categories, objects, and concepts; and discourse - how we hold a conversation in order to generate new knowledge and understanding. Underlying all of this is intuition – a culturally created sense of meaning. To explicitly identify teach our hidden curriculum we must pay attention to students' intuition and perception of physics, not just to their reasoning.

E. F. Redish, Introducing students to the culture of physics: Explicating elements of the hidden curriculum, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 49-52 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515245.

What We Learned by Moving Beyond Content Knowledge and Diversifying Our Research Agenda
Mel Sabella
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 53-56, doi:10.1063/1.3515246
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The Physics Program at Chicago State University has been investigating student learning for the past eight years in an effort to construct an effective instructional environment for the urban physics student. In our initial work, the targeted analysis on student content understanding caused us to miss the specific attitudes, thinking, and reasoning skills present in our students. As our research focus began to shift to identifying these other skills, we began to identify specific student resources that foster an active learning environment in the introductory physics course. In addition, we began to uncover a set of coherent, robust content knowledge that we had previously overlooked. Research studies on collaboration in the classroom and work on identifying intuitive and formal reasoning has since provided a rich, complex picture of student understanding and has informed the development of our instructional environment.

M. Sabella, What We Learned by Moving Beyond Content Knowledge and Diversifying Our Research Agenda, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 53-56 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515246.

Scientific Reasoning for Pre-service Elementary Teachers
Homeyra R. Sadaghiani
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 57-60, doi:10.1063/1.3515247
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The objectives of K-12 teacher education science courses often focus on conceptual learning and improving students overall attitude towards science. It is often assumed that with the use of research-based curriculum material and more hands on inquiry approaches, without any explicit instruction, student scientific and critical thinking skills would also be enhanced. In the last three years, we have been investigating student scientific and evidence-based reasoning abilities in a K-8 pre-service science course at Cal Poly Pomona. After recognizing student difficulties understanding the elements of scientific reasoning, we have provided explicit feedback using a rubric to assist students to become more rigorous and reflective thinkers; to use appropriate and accurate vocabulary; exercise evidence-base reasoning; and develop skepticism with respect to their own views. We will share the rubric and report on the preliminary results.

H. R. Sadaghiani, Scientific Reasoning for Pre-service Elementary Teachers, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 57-60 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515247.

Documenting and Interpreting Ways to Engage Students in ‘Thinking Like a Physicist’
Emily H. van Zee and Corinne A. Manogue
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 61-64, doi:10.1063/1.3515249
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The Paradigms in Physics Program at Oregon State University has adapted a variety of interactive pedagogies to engage students in ‘thinking like a physicist.’ Video recordings of class sessions document what the students and instructor say and do. This paper discusses development of narrative interpretations of such videos. Examples are drawn from two detailed narratives of activities during which the main ideas emerged during the wrap-up discussions rather than during the tasks that the students had been doing in their small groups. The goal of these ‘compare and contrast’ wrap-up discussions was to help the students envision connections among geometric and algebraic representations of the mathematics they would be using during the coming weeks of instruction in quantum mechanics. The purpose of the narratives is to provide examples of wrap-up discussions with commentary about ways in which the instructor was choosing to guide this process.

E. H. v. Zee and C. A. Manogue, Documenting and Interpreting Ways to Engage Students in ‘Thinking Like a Physicist’, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 61-64 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515249.

PEER REVIEWED MANUSCRIPTS (71)

First Author Index

Atkins · Baily · Barniol · Barth-Cohen · Bartiromo · Brewe · Carmichael · Chini · Clark · Close · Corpuz · Cummings · Dancy · DeBeck · Dedic · de la Garza · Ding · Docktor · Garcia · Garza · Gire · Goldberg · Gray · Harlow · Hawkins · Henderson · Hinrichs · Johnson · Juma · Kahle · Kapon · Kohl · Kost-Smith · Lau · Li · Lin · Loverude · Marin-Suarez · Marx · McBride · Miller · Murphy · Nakamura · Nguyen · Pepper · Perez-Goytia · Perkins · Podolefsky · Pollock · Price · Rodoff · Rayyan · Rodriguez · Rosengrant · Sadaghiani · Sawtelle · Scherr · Siddiqui · Singh · Smith · Spike · Strand · Taylor · Teodorescu · Turpen · Wang · Watkins · Wulf · Zavala · Zhu

Peer-reviewed Papers

Constructing Definitions as a Goal of Inquiry
Leslie J. Atkins and Irene Y. Salter
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 65-68, doi:10.1063/1.3515250
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In a class on perception, students, over the course of 3 weeks, constructed an account of “blurriness” with respect to vision, describing blurriness as occurring when “more than one ray from two separate points out in space are hitting the retina at one point.” This account of blurriness, however, was just one of many introduced early on in our investigations of the eye. As students worked to model the eye and developed a consensus description of how lenses and pinholes create images, the “the separate points in space to one point on the retina” idea was refined, gained prominence in discussions and became a stable, useful, and precise concept. This paper explores one student’s progressive understanding of blurriness, and the activities and interactions that supported the development of this definition.

L. J. Atkins and I. Y. Salter, Constructing Definitions as a Goal of Inquiry, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 65-68 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515250.

Interpretation in Quantum Physics as Hidden Curriculum
Charles Baily and Noah D. Finkelstein
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 69-72, doi:10.1063/1.3515251
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Prior research has demonstrated how the realist perspectives of classical physics students can translate into specific beliefs about quantum phenomena when taking an introductory modern physics course. Student beliefs regarding the interpretation of quantum mechanics often vary by context, and are most often in alignment with instructional goals in topic areas where instructors are explicit in promoting a particular perspective. Moreover, students are more likely to maintain realist perspectives in topic areas where instructors are less explicit in addressing interpretive themes, thereby making such issues part of a hidden curriculum. We discuss various approaches to addressing student perspectives and interpretive themes in a modern physics course, and explore the associated impacts on student thinking.

C. Baily and N. D. Finkelstein, Interpretation in Quantum Physics as Hidden Curriculum, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 69-72 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515251.

Vector Addition: Effect of the Context and Position of the Vectors
Pablo Barniol and Genaro Zavala
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 73-76, doi:10.1063/1.3515252
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In this article we investigate the effect of: 1) the context, and 2) the position of the vectors, on 2D vector addition tasks. We administered a test to 512 students completing introductory physics courses at a private Mexican university. In the first part, we analyze students’ responses in three isomorphic problems: displacements, forces, and no physical context. Students were asked to draw two vectors and the vector sum. We analyzed students’ procedures detecting the difficulties when drawing the vector addition and proved that the context matters, not only compared to the context-free case but also between the contexts. In the second part, we analyze students’ responses with three different arrangements of the sum of two vectors: tail-to-tail, head-to-tail and separated vectors. We compared the frequencies of the errors in the three different positions to deduce students' conceptions in the addition of vectors.

P. Barniol and G. Zavala, Vector Addition: Effect of the Context and Position of the Vectors, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 73-76 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515252.

Generating Explanations for an Emergent Process: The Movement of Sand Dunes
Lauren Barth-Cohen
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 77-80, doi:10.1063/1.3515253
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The movement of sand dunes in the desert is an emergent process; the overall movement of a dune is influenced both by the random interactions among individual sand particles and by the process of wind adding and subtracting sand. People often misconstrued emergent processes as deterministic processes containing central causality. I present a case study of how one person, an adult, who was not an expert in physics, articulated and refined her explanation of the movement of sand dunes. She began with centralized causality but ended with an explanation containing the cogent emergent ideas. This case study is noteworthy in exemplifying the dynamic process of generating an explanation. The interviewee went through four different explanations at three different levels (macro, micro and mid-level) and concluded with an explanation that simultaneously addressed the movement of sand dunes at all three levels.

L. Barth-Cohen, Generating Explanations for an Emergent Process: The Movement of Sand Dunes, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 77-80 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515253.

Searching for Evidence of Student Understanding
Tara Bartiromo
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 81-84, doi:10.1063/1.3515254
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There is a strong emphasis in physics education research on the use of multiple representations to help students explain physical phenomena and to solve physics problems. In this paper, we report on students’ use of multiple representations in the analysis of kinematics problems. The students learned kinematics using the Physics Union Mathematics curriculum. When we examined pairs of representations in student work (motion diagrams and graphs), we found that students were often consistent but not necessarily correct. Based on the patterns in the data we argue that to fully assess student understanding we need to provide students with problems that require them to use at least two different representations to explain their answer.

T. Bartiromo, Searching for Evidence of Student Understanding, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 81-84 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515254.

Changing Participation Through Formation of Student Learning Communities
Eric Brewe, Laird H. Kramer, and George O'Brien
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 85-88, doi:10.1063/1.3515255
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Differences in learning gains between interactive engagement and lecture instructional practices have been well documented and yet the ways in which students participate in each of these learning environments are not clearly established. We use social network analysis as one way to establish differences the participation of students in lecture sections and students in Modeling Instruction, a curriculum that uses interactive engagement. One primary difference in the way students participate in the two instructional practices is that students in Modeling Instruction classes form learning communities and students in lecture classes remain isolated. Students in Modeling Instruction sections report ten times greater numbers of ties between students than those in lecture sections, forming richer and more deeply connected networks. We interpret these differences in terms of a participationist view on learning and as an explanatory mechanism for understanding documented differences in learning gains in the two settings.

E. Brewe, L. H. Kramer, and G. O'Brien, Changing Participation Through Formation of Student Learning Communities, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 85-88 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515255.

Comparing Student Learning in Mechanics Using Simulations and Hands-on Activities
Adrian Carmichael, Jacquelyn J. Chini, N. Sanjay Rebello, and Sadhana Puntambekar
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 89-92, doi:10.1063/1.3515256
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Often computer simulation environments present students with an idealized version of the real world which can affect students' conceptual understanding. In this study we investigate the effects of completing an experiment in mechanics using this ideal world as compared to an identical experiment in the real world. Students in three of five conceptual physics laboratory sections completed the physical experiment while the other two sections performed the virtual experiment. The experiments were part of a unit on simple machines from the CoMPASS curriculum which integrates hypertext-based concept maps in a design-based context. There was no statistically significant difference between the pre and post data of the students in the two groups. Students who performed the virtual experiment were able to answer questions dealing with work and potential energy more correctly, though neither group was able to offer sound reasoning to support their answers.

A. Carmichael, J. J. Chini, N. S. Rebello, and S. Puntambekar, Comparing Student Learning in Mechanics Using Simulations and Hands-on Activities, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 89-92 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515256.

How Does Visual Attention Differ Between Experts and Novices on Physics Problems?
Adrian Carmichael, Adam M. Larson, Elizabeth Gire, Lester C. Loschky, and N. Sanjay Rebello
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 93-96, doi:10.1063/1.3515257
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Research in many disciplines has used eye-tracking technology to investigate the differences in the visual attention of experts and novices. For example, it has been shown that experts in art and chess spend more time than novices looking at relevant information. Thus, it may be helpful to give novices more direct insight into the way experts allocate their visual attention, for example using attentional cueing techniques. However, not much is known about how experts allocate their attention on physics problems. More specifically, we look at physics problems where the critical information needed to answer the problem is contained in a diagram. This study uses eye movements to investigate how the allocation of visual attention differs between experts and novices on these types of physics problems. We find that in several problems tested, those who answered a question correctly spend more time looking at thematically relevant areas while those who answer incorrectly spend more time looking at perceptually salient areas of the diagram.

A. Carmichael, A. M. Larson, E. Gire, L. C. Loschky, and N. S. Rebello, How Does Visual Attention Differ Between Experts and Novices on Physics Problems?, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 93-96 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515257.

Effects of a Prior Virtual Experience on Students’ Interpretations of Real Data
Jacquelyn J. Chini, Adrian Carmichael, Elizabeth Gire, N. Sanjay Rebello, and Sadhana Puntambekar
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 97-100, doi:10.1063/1.3515258
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Our previous work has shown that experimentation with virtual manipulatives supports students’ conceptual learning about simple machines differently than experimentation with physical manipulatives [1]. This difference could be due to the “messiness” of physical data from factors such as dissipative effects and measurement uncertainty. In this study, we ask whether the prior experience of performing a virtual experiment affects how students interpret the data from a physical experiment. Students enrolled in a conceptual-based physics laboratory used a hypertext system to explore the science concepts related to simple machines and performed physical and virtual experiments to learn about pulleys and inclined planes. Approximately half of the students performed the physical experiments before the virtual experiments and the other half completed the virtual experiments first. We find that using virtual manipulatives before physical manipulatives may promote an interpretation of physical data that is more productive for conceptual learning.

J. J. Chini, A. Carmichael, E. Gire, N. S. Rebello, and S. Puntambekar, Effects of a Prior Virtual Experience on Students’ Interpretations of Real Data, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 97-100 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515258.

Fluctuations in Student Understanding of Newton’s 3rd Law
Jessica Clark, Eleanor C. Sayre, and Scott V. Franklin
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 101-104, doi:10.1063/1.3515171
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We present data from a between-student study on student response to questions on Newton’s Third Law given throughout the academic year. The study, conducted at Rochester Institute of Technology, involved students from the first and third of a three-quarter sequence. Construction of a response curve reveals subtle dynamics in student learning not captured by simple pre/post testing. We find a a significant positive effect from direct instruction, peaking at the end of instruction on forces, that diminishes by the end of the quarter. Two quarters later, in physics III, a significant dip in correct response occurs when instruction changes from the vector quantities of electric forces and fields to the scalar quantity of electric potential. Student response rebounds to its initial values, however, once instruction returns to the vector-based topics involving magnetic fields.

J. Clark, E. C. Sayre, and S. V. Franklin, Fluctuations in Student Understanding of Newton’s 3rd Law, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 101-104 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515171.

Energy in Action: The Construction of Physics Ideas in Multiple Modes
Eleanor W. Close, Hunter G. Close, Sarah B. McKagan, and Rachel E. Scherr
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 105-108, doi:10.1063/1.3515172
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In a course organized around the development of diverse representations, no single mode of expression offers a complete picture of participants’ understanding of the nature of energy. Instead, we argue, their understanding is actively constructed through the simultaneous use of a range of quite different kinds of representational resources (Goodwin, 2000; Hutchins, 1995; Ochs, Gonzales, & Jacoby, 1996), including not only words and prosody but also gestures, symbolic objects, participants moving their bodies in concert, and whatever other communicative modes the course invites them to use. Examples are provided from a teacher professional development course on energy.

E. W. Close, H. G. Close, S. B. McKagan, and R. E. Scherr, Energy in Action: The Construction of Physics Ideas in Multiple Modes, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 105-108 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515172.

The Use of a Web-Based Classroom Interaction System in Introductory Physics Classes
Edgar D. Corpuz and Rolando Rosalez
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 109-112, doi:10.1063/1.3515173
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A web-based interaction system was used in algebra-based and calculus-based physics classes to enhance students' classroom interaction. The interactive teaching approach primarily incorporated elements of Mazur's Peer Instruction and Interactive Lecture Demonstration. In our implementation, students used personal digital assistants (PDAs) to interact with their instructor during lecture and classroom demonstration. In this paper, we document the perceptions and attitudes of algebra-based and calculus-based physics students towards the interactive teaching approach and likewise present data on how this approach affected students' performance on the Force Concept Inventory (FCI).

E. D. Corpuz and R. Rosalez, The Use of a Web-Based Classroom Interaction System in Introductory Physics Classes, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 109-112 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515173.

Beta-Test Data on an Assessment of Textbook Problem Solving Ability: An Argument for Right/Wrong Grading?
Karen Cummings and Jeffrey Marx
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 113-116, doi:10.1063/1.3515174
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We have developed an assessment of students' ability to solve standard textbook style problems and are currently engaged in the validation and revision process. The assessment covers the topics of force and motion, conservation of momentum and conservation of energy at a level consistent with most calculus-based, introductory physics courses. This tool is discussed in more detail in an accompanying paper by Marx and Cummings. [1] Here we present preliminary beta-test data collected at four schools during the 2009/2010 academic year. Data include both pre- and post-instruction results for introductory physics courses as well as results for physics majors in later years. In addition, we present evidence that right/wrong grading may well be a perfectly acceptable grading procedure for a course-level assessment of this type.

K. Cummings and J. Marx, Beta-Test Data on an Assessment of Textbook Problem Solving Ability: An Argument for Right/Wrong Grading?, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 113-116 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515174.

Why Do Faculty Try Research Based Instructional Strategies?
Melissa H. Dancy, Chandra Turpen, and Charles R. Henderson
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 117-120, doi:10.1063/1.3515175
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As part of a larger ongoing study of physics faculty, we report on analysis of 15 interviews with Peer Instruction (PI) users. The analyses presented here address the following two research questions 1) How did PI users come to know about PI? and 2) What reasons do PI users give for first trying PI? In this paper we describe how faculty were first exposed to PI, and the avenues faculty used to subsequently learn more about PI such as workshops, informal discussions with colleagues, reading journal articles, etc. We also describe reasons that faculty give for initially trying PI such as dissatisfaction with lecture methods, easy trialability of PI, or their intuitive sense that PI was a better way to teach. Following a summary of our findings, we discuss implications for dissemination.

M. H. Dancy, C. Turpen, and C. R. Henderson, Why Do Faculty Try Research Based Instructional Strategies?, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 117-120 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515175.

TA Beliefs in a SCALE-UP Style Classroom
George DeBeck, Sam Settelmeyer, Sissi L. Li, and Dedra Demaree
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 121-124, doi:10.1063/1.3515176
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In Spring 2010, the Oregon State University physics department instituted a SCALE-UP (Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs) style studio classroom in the introductory, calculus-based physics series. In our initial implementation, comprised of two hours lecture, two hours of studio, and two hours lab work, the studio session was lead by a faculty member and either 2 GTAs or 1 GTA and 1 LA. We plan to move to a model where senior GTAs can lead studio sections after co-teaching with the faculty member. It is critical that we know how to prepare and support the instructional team in facilitating student learning in this setting. We examine GTA and LA pedagogical beliefs through reflective journaling, interviews, and personal experience of the authors. In particular, we examine how these beliefs changed over their first quarter of instruction, as well as the resources used to adapt to the new classroom environment.

G. DeBeck, S. Settelmeyer, S. L. Li, and D. Demaree, TA Beliefs in a SCALE-UP Style Classroom, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 121-124 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515176.

Are All Wrong FCI Answers Equivalent?
Helena Dedic, Steven Rosenfield, and Nathaniel Lasry
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 125-128, doi:10.1063/1.3515177
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The Force Concept Inventory (FCI) has been efficiently used to assess conceptual learning in mechanics. Each FCI question has one Newtonian answer and four wrong answers (distracters). Researchers and practitioners most frequently use measures of total score to assess learning. Yet, are all wrong answers equivalent? We conducted Latent Markov Chain Modeling (LMCM) analyses of all choices (right and wrong) on a subset of four FCI questions. LMCM assesses whether there are groups of students sharing similar patterns of responses. We infer that students sharing similar patterns also share similar reasoning. Our results show seven reasoning-groups. LMCM also computes probabilities of transition from one reasoning-group to another after instruction. Examining transitions between groups, we note a clear hierarchy. Groups at the top of the hierarchy are comprised of students that use Newtonian thinking more consistently but also choose certain wrong answers more frequently; suggesting that not all wrong answers are equivalent.

H. Dedic, S. Rosenfield, and N. Lasry, Are All Wrong FCI Answers Equivalent?, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 125-128 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515177.

Assessing Students' Attitudes In A College Physics Course In Mexico
Jorge de la Garza and Hugo Alarcon
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 129-132, doi:10.1063/1.3515178
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Considering the benefits of modeling instruction in improving conceptual learning while students work more like scientists, an implementation was made in an introductory Physics course in a Mexican University. Recently Brewe, Kramer and O'Brien have observed positive attitudinal shifts using modeling instruction in a course with a reduced number of students. These results are opposite to previous observations with methodologies that promote active learning. Inspired in those results, the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey (CLASS) was applied as pre and post tests in two Mechanics courses with modeling. In comparison to the different categories of the CLASS, significant positive shifts have been determined in Overall, Sophistication in Problem Solving, and Applied Conceptual Understanding in a sample of 44 students.

J. d. l. Garza and H. Alarcon, Assessing Students' Attitudes In A College Physics Course In Mexico, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 129-132 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515178.

Sustained Effects of Solving Conceptually-scaffolded Synthesis Problems
Lin Ding, Neville W. Reay, Andrew F. Heckler, and Lei Bao
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 133-136, doi:10.1063/1.3515179
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Students commonly have difficulty with “synthesis problems”, which require a combination of typically two concepts that are taught separately in different chapters and/or at significantly different times during a course. One reason for this is that students frequently rely on a formula-based approach, beginning by searching for mathematical equations or worked examples which often do not exist. We employed a guided scaffolding method to induce students to employ a more effective problem-solving approach by first searching for fundamental concepts. This method includes a sequence of two conceptually-based multiple-choice questions that have similar deep structure as the synthesis problem, and an explicit instruction to remind students to make connections between the synthesis problem and these conceptual questions. We report our findings on the sustained effects of repeated training using conceptually-scaffolded synthesis problems. In the last 2 weeks of the 2009 fall quarter, we repeatedly provided 3 groups of students with different training using scaffolded synthesis problems, un-scaffolded synthesis problems, or traditional textbook problems. Four days after the training, all students took a common final examination containing a synthesis problem without scaffolding. Results show that repeated training with scaffolded synthesis problems rendered the highest success in students’ correctly identifying and applying fundamental concepts for solving this problem.

L. Ding, N. W. Reay, A. F. Heckler, and L. Bao, Sustained Effects of Solving Conceptually-scaffolded Synthesis Problems, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 133-136 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515179.

A Conceptual Approach to Physics Problem Solving
Jennifer Docktor, Natalie Strand, Jose P. Mestre, and Brian H. Ross
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 137-140, doi:10.1063/1.3515180
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Students in introductory physics courses treat problem solving as an exercise in manipulating equations, symbols, and quantities with the goal of obtaining the correct answer. Although this approach is efficient for getting answers, it is far from optimal for learning how conceptual knowledge is applied in the problem-solving process. The goal of this study is to refine and evaluate an approach that encourages students to begin by writing a strategic analysis of a problem based on principles and procedures, and then to follow with a documented problem solution that exhibits, side-by-side, how concepts and equations go together in a solution. We will discuss the implementation and effectiveness of this approach in four local high school classrooms.

J. Docktor, N. Strand, J. P. Mestre, and B. H. Ross, A Conceptual Approach to Physics Problem Solving, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 137-140 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515180.

The Impact of the History of Physics on Student Attitude and Conceptual Understanding of Physics
Sarah Garcia, April Hankins, and Homeyra R. Sadaghiani
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 141-144, doi:10.1063/1.3515182
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The purpose of this study is to investigate student learning of Newtonian Mechanics through the study of its history and the development of the relevant ideas since the time of ancient Greece. The hypothesis is that not only will students learn the basic concepts of mechanics, but also will develop a more positive attitude and appreciation for physics. To assess the students’ conceptual understanding, we administer Force Concept Inventory (FCI) and for the measurement of student attitude change, we employed the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey (CLASS); both were given as pre and post-tests. Additionally, at the end of the quarter, a survey was given out to see how students perceived the different course components and which ones they found helpful in their learning. This paper will present our preliminary results on such a study.

S. Garcia, A. Hankins, and H. R. Sadaghiani, The Impact of the History of Physics on Student Attitude and Conceptual Understanding of Physics, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 141-144 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515182.

Electric Field Concept: Effect of the Context and the Type of Questions
Alejandro Garza and Genaro Zavala
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 145-148, doi:10.1063/1.3515183
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We administered several open-ended questions to students after electrostatics is covered in an electricity and magnetism class at a private Mexican university. In the first part, the objective is to compare students’ responses on electric field concept questions in the presence of charges and conductors to those in the presence of charges and insulators. In the second part, the objective is to analyze the difference in responses when the context is changed. This report compares students’ answers to electric field concept questions while changing from abstract objects, i.e., point charge, non-conducting sphere; to already-used real materials in lab, i.e., charged tape, non-conducting pencil. Lastly, the objective is to analyze whether a guided question helps students to better answer electric field questions. This study compares students’ responses to electric field concept questions with no guidance to responses to guided questions and the degree of guidance.

A. Garza and G. Zavala, Electric Field Concept: Effect of the Context and the Type of Questions, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 145-148 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515183.

Investigating the Perceived Difficulty of Introductory Physics Problems
Elizabeth Gire and N. Sanjay Rebello
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 149-152, doi:10.1063/1.3515184
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We present two studies investigating factors that correlate with students' and instructors' perceptions of problem difficulty. In the first study, introductory physics students and instructors were asked to rate the difficulty of textbook-style work-energy problems. These difficulty ratings are compared and we look for correlations between the difficulty ratings and a measure of problem complexity. We find differences between students' and instructors' ratings and a correlation between instructors' ratings and problem complexity but no significant correlation between students' ratings and problem complexity. In the second study, we asked introductory physics students and instructors to rate the difficulty of textbook-style kinematics problems. Additionally, we asked students to provide ratings of their familiarity with these problems and complete solutions. We explore the relationship between difficulty ratings, problem complexity, problem familiarity, and the rate at which students solve the problems correctly.

E. Gire and N. S. Rebello, Investigating the Perceived Difficulty of Introductory Physics Problems, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 149-152 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515184.

Development and evaluation of large-enrollment, active-learning physical science curriculum
Fred Goldberg, Edward Price, Danielle Harlow, Stephen J. Robinson, Rebecca Kruse, and Michael McKean
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 153-156, doi:10.1063/1.3515185
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We report on the initial field tests of Learning Physical Science (LEPS), a new curriculum adapted from Physical Science and Everyday Thinking (PSET). PSET is an inquiry-based, hands-on, physical science curriculum that includes an explicit focus on nature of science and nature of learning. PSET was developed for small enrollment discussion/lab settings. The Learning Physical Science (LEPS) curriculum maintains the same research-based learning principles as PSET but is suitable for classes taught in lecture format. LEPS has been field tested by eight instructors at different universities. In this paper, we describe the adaptation process, the resulting LEPS curriculum, and present student learning outcomes for LEPS and PSET.

F. Goldberg, E. Price, D. Harlow, S. J. Robinson, R. Kruse, and M. McKean, Development and evaluation of large-enrollment, active-learning physical science curriculum, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 153-156 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515185.

Are Learning Assistants Better K-12 Science Teachers?
Kara E. Gray, David C. Webb, and Valerie K. Otero
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 157-160, doi:10.1063/1.3515186
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This study investigates how the undergraduate Learning Assistant (LA) experience affects teachers’ first year of teaching. The LA Program provides interested science majors with the opportunity to explore teaching through weekly teaching responsibilities, an introduction to physics education research, and a learning community within the university. Some of these LAs are recruited to secondary science teacher certification programs. We hypothesized that the LA experience would enhance the teaching practices of the LAs who ultimately become teachers. To test this hypothesis, LAs were compared to a matched sample of teachers who completed the same teacher certification program as the LAs but did not have the LA “treatment.” LAs and “non-LAs” were compared through interviews, classroom observations, artifact packages, and observations made with Reformed Teacher Observation Protocol (RTOP) collected within the first year of teaching. Some differences were found; these findings and their implications are discussed.

K. E. Gray, D. C. Webb, and V. K. Otero, Are Learning Assistants Better K-12 Science Teachers?, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 157-160 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515186.

Learning Pedagogy in Physics
Danielle Harlow, Lauren Swanson, Hilary A. Dwyer, and Julie A. Bianchini
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 161-164, doi:10.1063/1.3515187
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We report on an adapted version of the Physics and Everyday Thinking (PET) curriculum. A unique aspect of PET is its inclusion of special activities that focus on Learning about Learning (LAL) in which undergraduates analyze videos of children talking about science and explicitly consider the nature of science. To create a course that intentionally linked science content, children's ideas, and strategies for science instruction, we augmented the existing LAL activities with discussions about teaching, and added activities focused on LAL from companion curricula such as Physical Science and Everyday Thinking (PSET) and Learning Physical Science (LEPS). To compensate for the additional time on LAL, we reduced the content activities to only those that directly supported LAL activities. We found that students made significant gains on the CLASS and expressed beliefs about teaching consistent with the PET pedagogy.

D. Harlow, L. Swanson, H. A. Dwyer, and J. A. Bianchini, Learning Pedagogy in Physics, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 161-164 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515187.

Students’ Responses to Different Representations of a Vector Addition Question
Jeffrey M. Hawkins, John R. Thompson, Michael C. Wittmann, Eleanor C. Sayre, and Brian W. Frank
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 165-168, doi:10.1063/1.3515188
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We investigate if the visual representation of vectors can affect which methods students use to add them. We gave students one of four questions with different graphical representations, asking students to add the same two vectors. For students in an algebra-based class the arrangement of the vectors had a statistically significant effect on the vector addition method chosen while the addition or removal of a grid did not.

J. M. Hawkins, J. R. Thompson, M. C. Wittmann, E. C. Sayre, and B. W. Frank, Students’ Responses to Different Representations of a Vector Addition Question, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 165-168 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515188.

Variables that Correlate with Faculty Use of Research-Based Instructional Strategies
Charles R. Henderson, Melissa H. Dancy, and Magdalena Niewiadomska-Bugaj
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 169-172, doi:10.1063/1.3515189
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During the Fall of 2008 a web survey, designed to collect information about pedagogical knowledge and practices, was completed by a representative sample of 722 physics faculty across the United States (a 50.3% response rate). This paper examines how 20 predictor variables correlate with faculty knowledge about and use of research-based instructional strategies (RBIS). Profiles were developed for each of four faculty levels of knowledge about and use of RBIS. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify a subset of the variables that could predict group membership. Five significant predictor variables were identified. High levels of knowledge and use of RBIS were associated with the following characteristics: attendee of the physics and astronomy new faculty workshop, attendee of at least one talk or workshop related to teaching in the last two years, satisfaction with meeting instructional goals, regular reader of one or more journals related to teaching, and being female. High research productivity and large class sizes were not found to be barriers to use of at least some RBIS.

C. R. Henderson, M. H. Dancy, and M. Niewiadomska-Bugaj, Variables that Correlate with Faculty Use of Research-Based Instructional Strategies, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 169-172 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515189.

Writing Position Vectors in 3-d Space: A Student Difficulty With Spherical Unit Vectors in Intermediate E&M
Brant E. Hinrichs
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 173-176, doi:10.1063/1.3515190
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An intermediate E&M course (i.e. based on Griffiths [1]) involves the extensive integration of vector calculus concepts and notation with abstract physics concepts like field and potential. We hope that students take what they have learned in their math courses and apply it to help represent and make sense of the physics. To assess how well students are able to do this integration and application I have developed several simple concept tests on position and unit vectors in non-Cartesian coordinate systems as they are used in intermediate E&M. In this paper I describe one of these concept tests and present results that show both undergraduate physics majors and physics graduate students have difficulty using spherical unit vectors to write position vectors in 3-d space.

B. E. Hinrichs, Writing Position Vectors in 3-d Space: A Student Difficulty With Spherical Unit Vectors in Intermediate E&M, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 173-176 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515190.

Exploring Student Understanding of Atoms and Radiation with the Atom Builder Simulator
Andy Johnson and Anna Hafele
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 177-180, doi:10.1063/1.3515191
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Learning about radiation requires understanding the general structure of atoms, but many college physics students do not have such understandings. In our efforts to develop inquiry based materials on radiation, we have accumulated additional evidence showing that certain students do indeed have substantial difficulties understanding the basic structure and properties of atoms, and that these difficulties impair their understandings of the simplest radiation processes—emission and ionization. This paper reports on our investigations of student difficulties in understanding basic properties of atoms and ionization and radioactivity. We also describe results from a class using a new pedagogical simulator—the Atom Builder—and provide evidence for marked improvement in student understanding.

A. Johnson and A. Hafele, Exploring Student Understanding of Atoms and Radiation with the Atom Builder Simulator, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 177-180 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515191.

Students' and Instructor's Impressions of Ill-structured Capstone Projects in an Advanced Electronics Lab
Nasser M. Juma, Elizabeth Gire, Kristan Corwin, Brian Washburn, and N. Sanjay Rebello
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 181-184, doi:10.1063/1.3515193
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During spring 2010 six students enrolled in an advanced electronics lab worked in pairs on ill-structured capstone projects. They designed electronic circuitry to automate experiments that were completed in a previous advanced physics lab. Some ill-structured features of these capstone projects included open-ended goals, limited guidance from the instructor and the possibility of multiple solution paths. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with both the students and the instructor of the class, before and after the students worked on these ill-structured capstone projects to gauge the participants' expectations of the projects before they began and their views about these projects after they were completed. We report on the pre- and post-project impressions of the students and instructors regarding this ill-structured learning experience.

N. M. Juma, E. Gire, K. Corwin, B. Washburn, and N. S. Rebello, Students' and Instructor's Impressions of Ill-structured Capstone Projects in an Advanced Electronics Lab, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 181-184 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515193.

An Evolving Model for Seeing Colored Objects: A Case Study Progression
Emma Kahle, Rachel E. Scherr, and Hunter G. Close
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 185-188, doi:10.1063/1.3515194
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We document the experience of a single participant in a course for secondary teacher professional development in order to track the changes in her thinking about how light interacts with colored objects. Our two main interests in conducting this analysis are first, to better understand learners’ ideas about light and color, and second, to observe changes in learners’ thinking as they occur in real-time classroom events.

E. Kahle, R. E. Scherr, and H. G. Close, An Evolving Model for Seeing Colored Objects: A Case Study Progression, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 185-188 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515194.

Instructional explanations as an interface - The role of explanatory primitives
Shulamit Kapon and Andrea A. diSessa
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 189-192, doi:10.1063/1.3515195
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What makes an instructional sequence in physics meaningful to students? Why do some explanations seem more plausible than others? Why is it that an explanation can appear plausible to one student but not to another? We present a model that addresses these questions. Elaborating diSessa’s (1993) concept of p-prims, we develop a model of explanatory primitives and argue that different individuals have different sets of explanatory primitives, or they assign different priorities to the same explanatory primitives. Individual differences in explanatory primitives can account for differences in reactions to an instructional explanation, and we present empirical data to support this claim. We then use the model to analyze Jim Minsrell’s (1982) instructional sequence about normal forces to illustrate how an effective learning sequence addresses differences between individuals by evoking a rich set of explanatory primitives.

S. Kapon and A. A. diSessa, Instructional explanations as an interface - The role of explanatory primitives, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 189-192 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515195.

Direct and Indirect Approaches to Increasing Conceptual Survey Gains
Patrick B. Kohl , Charles Pearl, and H. Vincent Kuo
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 193-196, doi:10.1063/1.3515196
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Conceptual surveys like the FCI and CSEM are common, and course reforms often have the goal of improving student gains on these surveys. There exist various approaches to improving said gains, and there is occasionally concern that such methods “teach to the test” excessively. To our knowledge, however, there has been little direct experimentation on whether teaching to the test, even intentionally, has the expected result. In this paper, we report on a simple two-semester experiment involving ~900 students where we tried two different approaches to improving CSEM gains in an introductory E&M class. In the first trial, we gave students many of the questions from the CSEM as Peer Instruction-style clicker questions in lecture. In the second, we redeveloped parts of our Studio physics curriculum to target CSEM concepts without replicating CSEM questions. Comparing the CSEM gains in the experimental sections to the previous year’s sections, we find that the first trial resulted in significant (~0.20) shifts in normalized gains on the relevant questions, while the second trial resulted in minimal or no shifts.

P. B. Kohl, C. Pearl, and H. V. Kuo, Direct and Indirect Approaches to Increasing Conceptual Survey Gains, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 193-196 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515196.

Gender Differences in Physics 1: The Impact of a Self-Affirmation Intervention
Lauren E. Kost-Smith, Steven J. Pollock, Noah D. Finkelstein, Geoffrey L. Cohen, Tiffany A. Ito, and Akira Miyake
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 197-200, doi:10.1063/1.3515197
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Prior work at CU-Boulder has shown that a gender gap (difference in male and female performance) exists in both the pre- and post-course conceptual surveys, despite the use of interactive engagement techniques [Kost, et al., PRST-PER 5, 010101]. A potential explanation for this persistent gap is that stereotype threat, the fear of confirming a stereotype about one self, is inhibiting females’ performance. Prior research has demonstrated that stereotype threat can be alleviated through the use of self-affirmation, a process of affirming one’s overall self-worth and integrity [Cohen, et al., Science 313, 1307]. We report results of a randomized experiment testing the impact of a self-affirmation exercise on the gender gap in Physics 1. The gender gap on a conceptual post-survey is reduced from 19% for students who did not affirm their own values, to 9% for students who completed two 15-minute self-affirmation exercises at the beginning of the semester.

L. E. Kost-Smith, S. J. Pollock, N. D. Finkelstein, G. L. Cohen, T. A. Ito, and A. Miyake, Gender Differences in Physics 1: The Impact of a Self-Affirmation Intervention, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 197-200 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515197.

Frame Analysis as a Way to Understand the Complex Dynamic of Classroom Teaching Practice
Matty Lau
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 201-204, doi:10.1063/1.3515199
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From one moment to the next, what and how a teacher teaches may change. In this paper, I discuss two examples from one teacher, showing shifts in her practice from one moment to the next, within the same activity. These shifts are characterized by different ways in which assessed her students' ideas and interacted with her students. Common accounts that attempt to explain teachers' practice as the result of a unified set of beliefs, knowledge, and goals (e.g., teacher-type) cannot account for these two examples. While these broad generalizations may be useful for studying broader patterns in large populations, they assume a consistency in teacher cognition that is not born out by the data. I argue that frame analysis can provide insight into how to think about variability in teacher cognition- namely that consistency is local and depends on what is going on in that moment.

M. Lau, Frame Analysis as a Way to Understand the Complex Dynamic of Classroom Teaching Practice, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 201-204 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515199.

Survey Development for Assessing Learning Identity in an ISLE Classroom
Sissi L. Li, Jennifer A. Roth, and Dedra Demaree
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 205-208, doi:10.1063/1.3515201
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Innovative STEM curricula such as the ISLE (Investigative Science Learning Environment) curriculum [1] are centered on active engagement in social learning processes as a means to achieve curricular goals. Classroom practices are highly interactive to facilitate students’ development of authentic scientist abilities. To the students, these classroom practices often seem very different from their previous learning experiences in terms of behavioral expectations, attitude, and what it means to learn. Consequently, students must modify their identity as learners in addition to physics conceptual understanding in order to participate productively in this learning environment. Using a survey we developed, we want to assess their 1) expectations of student and teacher roles, 2) self efficacy towards skills supported in ISLE and 3) attitudes towards social learning as well as how these change as a result of their experience in this curriculum. We will discuss the development, validation and preliminary findings of the survey.

S. L. Li, J. A. Roth, and D. Demaree, Survey Development for Assessing Learning Identity in an ISLE Classroom, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 205-208 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515201.

Using Analogies to Learn Introductory Physics
Shih-Yin Lin and Chandralekha Singh
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 209-212, doi:10.1063/1.3515202
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Identifying the relevant physics principles is a central component of problem solving. A major goal of most introductory physics courses is to help students discern the deep similarities between problems based upon the physics principles so that they can transfer what they learned by solving one problem to solve another problem which involves the same principle. We conducted an investigation in which 251 calculus- and algebra-based introductory physics students were asked explicitly in the recitation quiz to learn from a solved problem and then solve another problem that has different surface features but the same underlying physics principles. We find that many students were able to discern the deep similarities between the problems. When the solved problem was provided, students were likely to invoke the correct principles; however, more scaffolding is needed to help students apply these principles correctly.

S. Lin and C. Singh, Using Analogies to Learn Introductory Physics, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 209-212 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515202.

Investigating Student Understanding for a Statistical Analysis of Two Thermally Interacting Solids
Michael E. Loverude
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 213-216, doi:10.1063/1.3515203
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As part of an ongoing research and curriculum development project for upper-division courses in thermal physics, we have developed a sequence of tutorials in which students apply statistical methods to examine the behavior of two interacting Einstein solids. In the sequence, students begin with simple results from probability and develop a means for counting the states in a single Einstein solid. The students then consider the thermal interaction of two solids, and observe that the classical equilibrium state corresponds to the most probable distribution of energy between the two solids. As part of the development of the tutorial sequence, we have developed several assessment questions to probe student understanding of various aspects of this system. In this paper, we describe the strengths and weaknesses of student reasoning, both qualitative and quantitative, to assess the readiness of students for one tutorial in the sequence.

M. E. Loverude, Investigating Student Understanding for a Statistical Analysis of Two Thermally Interacting Solids, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 213-216 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515203.

Influence of Learning Styles on Conceptual Learning of Physics
Teresita Marin-Suarez and Hugo Alarcon
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 217-220, doi:10.1063/1.3515204
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Several studies have shown the influence of scientific reasoning on the conceptual learning of students in courses developed with methodologies that promote active learning. Given that learning styles may also influence conceptual learning of physics, a correlacional study was conducted which used two different approaches of learning styles: the Honey-Alonso and Felder-Silverman models. This quantitative study was performed in two groups of students using modeling instruction in a college course of introductory mechanics. The Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation test (FMCE) was used to assess conceptual learning. The results of this work suggest the dependence of the conceptual learning of physics on the learning styles.

T. Marin-Suarez and H. Alarcon, Influence of Learning Styles on Conceptual Learning of Physics, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 217-220 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515204.

Development of a Survey Instrument to Gauge Students’ Problem-Solving Abilities
Jeffrey Marx and Karen Cummings
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 221-224, doi:10.1063/1.3515206
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In this paper we discuss the early stages of development of a survey instrument to assess students’ problem- solving abilities in a first-term, undergraduate, calculus-based physics course. Specifically, we present our motivation for the development of such a survey, details of a preliminary version of the survey, and some sample items.

J. Marx and K. Cummings, Development of a Survey Instrument to Gauge Students’ Problem-Solving Abilities, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 221-224 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515206.

Student Understanding of the Correlation between Hands- on Activities and Computer Visualizations of NMR/MRI
Dyan L. McBride, Sytil K. Murphy, and Dean A. Zollman
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 225-228, doi:10.1063/1.3515207
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This study utilizes the implementation of research-based learning materials designed to teach students about the physics of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in a concepts-based introductory-level physics course. A progression of activities using hands-on experiments and computer visualizations leads students through the basics of magnetism and resonance, and finally toward a model of MRI. Here we seek to describe how students understand the basics of resonance and then proceed to make correlations between the hands-on activities and visualizations. Results show that students had fundamental difficulties with the concepts surrounding resonance, and that it appears to have led to a rudimentary understanding of the visualization and how the two tasks were correlated. Based on student responses, we postulate what further scaffolding will be necessary for helping the students make more robust connections and a more comprehensive understanding of the phenomena associated with MRI.

D. L. McBride, S. K. Murphy, and D. A. Zollman, Student Understanding of the Correlation between Hands- on Activities and Computer Visualizations of NMR/MRI, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 225-228 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515207.

Losing it: The Influence of Losses on Individuals' Normalized Gains
Kelly Miller, Nathaniel Lasry, Orad Reshef, Jason E. Dowd, Ives Araujo, and Eric Mazur
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 229-232, doi:10.1063/1.3515208
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Researchers and practitioners routinely use the normalized gain (Hake, 1998) to evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. Normalized gain (g) has been useful in distinguishing active engagement from traditional instruction. Recently, concerns were raised about normalized gain because it implicitly neglects retention (or, equivalently, "losses"). That is to say, g assumes no right answers become wrong after instruction. We analyze individual standardized gain (G) and loss (L) in data collected at Harvard University during the first five years that Peer Instruction was developed. We find that losses are non-zero, and that losses are larger among students with lower pre-test performances. These preliminary results warrant further research, particularly with different student populations, to establish whether the failure to address loss changes the conclusions drawn from g.

K. Miller, N. Lasry, O. Reshef, J. E. Dowd, I. Araujo, and E. Mazur, Losing it: The Influence of Losses on Individuals' Normalized Gains, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 229-232 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515208.

REU Students’ Initial Perceptions of Scientific Ethics
Sytil K. Murphy and Dean A. Zollman
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 233-236, doi:10.1063/1.3515209
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One goal of undergraduate research, particularly Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs, is to help students become aware of the importance of ethical conduct in research. The Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE) indicates that biology students believe they learn more about ethical conduct from their research experiences than physics students. Motivated by this, we initiated a study of both biology and physics REU students at Kansas State University consisting of pre- and post-interviews regarding their understanding of ethics with results to be compared to the SURE. This paper presents the students’ initial perceptions (from the pre-interview) of how ethical issues impact science in general as well as their own specific work. We also discuss the differences in the interview responses of the two groups.

S. K. Murphy and D. A. Zollman, REU Students’ Initial Perceptions of Scientific Ethics, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 233-236 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515209.

Pilot Testing of the Pathway Active Learning Environment
Christopher M. Nakamura, Sytil K. Murphy, Dean A. Zollman, Michael Christel, and Scott M. Stevens
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 237-240, doi:10.1063/1.3515210
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We present an initial analysis of data taken to test the technical functionality and student usability of an interactive synthetic tutoring system administered online. The system allows students to ask questions and receive pre- recorded video responses from knowledgeable tutors in real-time. It logs student interactions with a timestamp and username to generate a time-resolved picture of students’ use of the system. The tutoring interaction is structured by lessons covering Newton’s laws. Time on-task estimates indicate that students spent about 2.5 hours working through our materials, about as much as intended. Data show students’ reluctance to query the tutor or that their focus is on other aspects of the system. This suggests modifications to the system that may encourage students to take advantage of its interactive capabilities. The system combines lessons, images, and video technology designed to emulate conversation to produce a supplemental teaching tool that may be useful for studying multimedia effects on learning.

C. M. Nakamura, S. K. Murphy, D. A. Zollman, M. Christel, and S. M. Stevens, Pilot Testing of the Pathway Active Learning Environment, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 237-240 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515210.

Facilitating Strategies for Solving Work-Energy Problems in Graphical and Equational Representations
Dong-Hai Nguyen, Elizabeth Gire, and N. Sanjay Rebello
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 241-244, doi:10.1063/1.3515211
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Our previous research has suggested that the major difficulty students have when solving physics problems posed in graphical and equational representations is due to students’ inability to appropriately activate the required mathematical knowledge in the context of a physics problem. Based on these results, we developed problem sets for each major topic in introductory mechanics. Each set consisted of one or two pairs of matched math and physics problems, debate problems, and problem posing tasks. We conducted focus group learning interviews with two groups of students working in pairs: a treatment group working on our research-based problem sets and a control group solving isomorphic textbook problems on the same topics. We present here a description of one of our problem sets on Work- Energy problems as well as a comparison of the performance of the two groups on transfer problems on Work-Energy involving graphical and equational representations.

D. Nguyen, E. Gire, and N. S. Rebello, Facilitating Strategies for Solving Work-Energy Problems in Graphical and Equational Representations, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 241-244 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515211.

Our best juniors still struggle with Gauss’s Law: Characterizing their difficulties
Rachel E. Pepper, Stephanie V. Chasteen, Steven J. Pollock, and Katherine K. Perkins
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 245-248, doi:10.1063/1.3515212
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We discuss student conceptual difficulties with Gauss’s law observed in an upper-division Electricity and Magnetism (E&M) course. Difficulties at this level have been described in previous work; we present further quantitative and qualitative evidence that upper-division students still struggle with Gauss’s law. This evidence is drawn from analysis of upper-division E&M conceptual post-tests, traditional exams, and formal student interviews. Examples of student difficulties include difficulty with the inverse nature of the problem, difficulty articulating complete symmetry arguments, and trouble recognizing that in situations without sufficient symmetry it is impossible (rather than “difficult”) to calculate the electric field using Gauss’s law. One possible explanation for some of these conceptual difficulties is that even students at the upper level may struggle to connect mathematical expressions to physical meanings.

R. E. Pepper, S. V. Chasteen, S. J. Pollock, and K. K. Perkins, Our best juniors still struggle with Gauss’s Law: Characterizing their difficulties, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 245-248 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515212.

Understanding and Interpreting Calculus Graphs: Refining an Instrument
Nadia Perez-Goytia, Angeles Dominguez, and Genaro Zavala
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 249-252, doi:10.1063/1.3515213
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The objective of this ongoing study is to refine an instrument to evaluate conceptual understanding and graphical interpretation of a function and its derivative. The instrument is based on a modified version of the Test of Understanding Graphs in Kinematics (TUG-K) which consists of 26 items (7 dimensions). In the new instrument, Test of Understanding Graphs in Calculus (TUG-C), the kinematics context has been removed from the items creating a new context-free version. To favor the translation from kinematics to Calculus, the focus is on 5 out of the 7 original dimensions of the test, giving a 16-item test. A total of 526 students from a university level Introductory Physics course participated in the study. Half of the students were administered the kinematics test and the other half took the calculus test. This work will present data showing preliminary results of the instrument and new directions on improving the instrument.

N. Perez-Goytia, A. Dominguez, and G. Zavala, Understanding and Interpreting Calculus Graphs: Refining an Instrument, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 249-252 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515213.

Who Becomes a Physics Major? A Long-term Longitudinal Study Examining the Roles of Pre-college Beliefs about Physics and Learning Physics, Interest, and Academic Achievement
Katherine K. Perkins and M. Gratny
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 253-256, doi:10.1063/1.3515214
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In this paper, we examine the correlation between students’ beliefs upon entering college and their likelihood of continuing on to become a physics major. Since 2004, we have collected CLASS survey and self-reported level-of-interest responses from students in the first-term, introductory calculus-based physics course (N>2500). Here, we conduct a retrospective analysis of students’ incoming CLASS scores and level of interest, comparing those students who go on to become physics majors with those who do not. We find the incoming CLASS scores and reported interest of these future physics majors to be substantially higher than the class average, indicating that these students enter their first college course already having quite expert-like beliefs. The comparative differences are much smaller for grades, SAT score, and university predicted-GPA.

K. K. Perkins and M. Gratny, Who Becomes a Physics Major? A Long-term Longitudinal Study Examining the Roles of Pre-college Beliefs about Physics and Learning Physics, Interest, and Academic Achievement, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 253-256 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515214.

Characterizing Complexity of Computer Simulations and Implications for Student Learning
Noah S. Podolefsky, Wendy K. Adams, Kelly Lancaster, and Katherine K. Perkins
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 257-260, doi:10.1063/1.3515215
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Interactive simulations can be engaging tools for student learning, allowing students to explore phenomena by asking questions and seeking answers through use of the sim. PhET simulations allow this process to happen dynamically so that students can continuously probe and explore the underlying science. For students to use simulations productively, understanding the science in the simulation must be challenging enough to maintain students’ interest, but not so challenging that students are overwhelmed. A key aspect of achieving a good balance is the complexity of the simulation for students. We have formulated an initial model to quantify complexity based on the number, range, and effects of controls and representations within a simulation. We account for students’ prior knowledge by adjusting the measured complexity depending on how students interpret the representations and conceptual connections within the simulation. Implications for simulation design and student engagement will be discussed in light of preliminary interview data.

N. S. Podolefsky, W. K. Adams, K. Lancaster, and K. K. Perkins, Characterizing Complexity of Computer Simulations and Implications for Student Learning, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 257-260 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515215.

The use of concept tests and peer instruction in upper-division physics
Steven J. Pollock, Stephanie V. Chasteen, Michael Dubson, and Katherine K. Perkins
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 261-264, doi:10.1063/1.3515218
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Many upper-division courses at the University of Colorado now regularly use peer instruction in the form of clicker questions during lectures. Particular attention has been paid to developing and implementing clicker questions in junior-level E&M and Quantum mechanics. These transformed classes largely follow traditional local norms of syllabus and content coverage, but are designed to address broader learning goals (e.g developing math-physics connections) that our faculty expect from physics majors in these courses. Concept-tests are designed to align with these goals, and have altered the dynamic of our classes. Coupled with other course transformations, we find measurable improvement in student performance on targeted conceptual post-tests. Here, we discuss classroom logistics of upper-division clickers, purposes of clicker questions, aspects of student engagement facilitated by concept-tests, and observations of and challenges to sustainability of this activity.

S. J. Pollock, S. V. Chasteen, M. Dubson, and K. K. Perkins, The use of concept tests and peer instruction in upper-division physics, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 261-264 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515218.

Comparing Educational Tools Using Activity Theory: Clickers and Flashcards
Edward Price, Charles De Leone, and Nathaniel Lasry
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 265-268, doi:10.1063/1.3515219
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Physics educators and researchers have recently begun to distinguish between pedagogical approaches and the educational technologies that are used to implement them. For instance, peer instruction has been shown to be equally effective, in terms of student learning outcomes, when implemented with clickers or flashcards. Therefore, technological tools (clickers and flashcards) can be viewed as means to mediate pedagogical techniques (peer instruction or traditional instruction). In this paper, we use activity theory to examine peer instruction, with particular attention to the role of tools. This perspective helps clarify clickers’ and flashcards’ differences, similarities, impacts in the classroom, and utility to education researchers. Our analysis can suggest improvements and new uses. Finally, we propose activity theory as a useful approach in understanding and improving the use of technology in the physics classroom.

E. Price, C. D. Leone, and N. Lasry, Comparing Educational Tools Using Activity Theory: Clickers and Flashcards, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 265-268 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515219.

The Beginnings of Energy in Third Graders’ Reasoning
Jennifer Rodoff, Fred Goldberg, David Hammer, and Sharon Fargason
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 269-272, doi:10.1063/1.3515220
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We present snippets of third-graders discussing ideas about energy as part of their considering and comparing different ways to make a toy car start moving. This case study illustrates a “responsive curriculum” approach to coordinating inquiry- and traditional content-oriented objectives in early science education.

J. Rodoff, F. Goldberg, D. Hammer, and S. Fargason, The Beginnings of Energy in Third Graders’ Reasoning, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 269-272 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515220.

Improved Student Performance in Electricity and Magnetism Following Prior MAPS Instruction in Mechanics
Saif Rayyan, Andrew Pawl, Analia Barrantes, Raluca E. Teodorescu, and David E. Pritchard
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 273-276, doi:10.1063/1.3515221
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We examine the performance of a group of students in Introductory Electricity and Magnetism following a ReView course in Introductory Mechanics focusing on problem solving employing the Modeling Applied to Problem Solving (MAPS) pedagogy[1]. The group consists of students who received a D in the fall Mechanics course (8.01) and were given the chance to attend the ReView course and take a final retest. Improvement to a passing grade was qualification for the Electricity and Magnetism course (8.02) in the spring. The ReView course was conducted twice - during January 2009 and January 2010. As a control, we took a group of students with similar z-scores in 8.01 in Fall 2007 that were not offered the ReView course. We show that the ReView students perform ~0.7 standard deviations better than the control group (p~0.002) and ~ 0.5 standard deviations better than what is expected based on their performance in 8.01(p ~0.001).

S. Rayyan, A. Pawl, A. Barrantes, R. E. Teodorescu, and D. E. Pritchard, Improved Student Performance in Electricity and Magnetism Following Prior MAPS Instruction in Mechanics, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 273-276 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515221.

Constructing a Model of Physics Expertise
Idaykis Rodriguez, Eric Brewe, and Laird H. Kramer
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 277-280, doi:10.1063/1.3515222
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Research on physics expertise has predominantly focused on cognitive differences between physics experts and novices where the novices are high school or introductory college students and the experts are university physics professors or graduate doctoral students. Most physics expertise studies declare the experts to be the physics faculty without justifying this decision. To establish more clearly the characteristics of physics experts, we conducted a qualitative interview pilot study of three university physics professors. The professors each had an hour-long interview where they were asked about their experiences of becoming a physics expert. We present the analysis of the question, ‘What makes a physics expert?’ Analysis of the data resulted in the construction of a model of physics expertise, which indicates that a physics expert is a specific physics expert first, acquires general physics expert characteristics and then becomes an expert in physics or a boundary crosser.

I. Rodriguez, E. Brewe, and L. H. Kramer, Constructing a Model of Physics Expertise, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 277-280 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515222.

Pre-Service Physics Teachers and Physics Education Research
David Rosengrant
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 281-284, doi:10.1063/1.3515223
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Training pre-service teachers requires, among other things, content knowledge, pedagogical skills and pedagogical content knowledge. Teacher preparation programs have little, if any spare time to add more courses/activities to their program. However, I argue in this paper that we, as educators, must enhance the amount of physics education research in our pre-service physics teacher training programs. In this study, I analyze the results of two different types of exposure to physics education research (PER) from two different groups of pre-service physics teachers in our masters of arts and teaching program. The preliminary results show, for example that the PER helped the pre-service teachers increase their understanding of student thought processes while they solved problems. Physics teachers must have this type of ability to be successful in the classroom.

D. Rosengrant, Pre-Service Physics Teachers and Physics Education Research, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 281-284 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515223.

Online Multimedia PreLab Tutorials in Conservation Laws
Homeyra R. Sadaghiani
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 285-288, doi:10.1063/1.3515224
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Physics laboratories are intended to provide students an opportunity to investigate physical phenomena by making observations, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting their findings clearly. However, some students lack an adequate preparation and conceptual background to achieve these objectives. To help students to better prepare for the laboratory sessions at Cal Poly Pomona, in a pilot study, we designed a 20-minute online multimedia prelab tutorial on the topics of conservation laws using flash animations, narration, and videos. This multimedia prelab includes a brief lesson on the theory, as well as an introduction to the laboratory procedure and apparatus with embedded assessment questions and feedback throughout the module. The preliminary data shows improvement in student overall preparation, quiz scores, and their lab reports after using this prelab tutorial.

H. R. Sadaghiani, Online Multimedia PreLab Tutorials in Conservation Laws, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 285-288 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515224.

Positive Impacts of Modeling Instruction on Self-Efficacy
Vashti Sawtelle, Eric Brewe, and Laird H. Kramer
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 289-292, doi:10.1063/1.3515225
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Analysis of the impact of Modeling Instruction (MI) on the sources of self-efficacy for students in Introductory Physics 1 will be presented. We measured self-efficacy through a quantitative diagnostic (SOSESC) developed by Fencl and Scheel to investigate the impact of instruction on the sources of self-efficacy in all introductory physics classes. We collected both pre- semester data and post-semester data, and evaluated the effect of the classroom by analyzing the shift (Post-Pre). At Florida International University, a Hispanic-serving institution, we find that traditional lecture classrooms negatively impact the self-efficacy of all students, while the MI courses had no impact for all students. Further, when disaggregating the data by gender and sources of self-efficacy, we find that Modeling Instruction positively impacted the Verbal Persuasion source of self-efficacy for women. This positive impact helps to explain high rates of retention for women in the MI classes.

V. Sawtelle, E. Brewe, and L. H. Kramer, Positive Impacts of Modeling Instruction on Self-Efficacy, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 289-292 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515225.

“Energy Theater”: Using The Body Symbolically To Understand Energy
Rachel E. Scherr, Hunter G. Close, Sarah B. McKagan, and Eleanor W. Close
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 293-296, doi:10.1063/1.3515226
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In what we call “embodied learning activities,” instructors deliberately arrange for human bodies, or parts of the body, to stand in for entities in the description or explanation of a phenomenon. Embodied learning activities (ELAs) are intended to promote and externalize conceptual understanding in physics, for the benefit of the learner, the instructor, and the researcher. We describe an example of an embodied learning activity called “Energy Theater,” in which each participant identifies as a unit of energy that has one and only one form. Objects in the scenario correspond to regions on the floor, and as energy moves and changes form in the scenario, participants move to different locations on the floor. This representation models energy as a substance-like quantity, a model that promotes concepts of conservation, storage, transfer, and flow. The activity becomes a richly featured disciplined symbolic workspace, supporting future studies for both description and analysis.

R. E. Scherr, H. G. Close, S. B. McKagan, and E. W. Close, “Energy Theater”: Using The Body Symbolically To Understand Energy, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 293-296 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515226.

Surveying Instructors’ Attitudes and Approaches to Teaching Quantum Mechanics
Shabnam Siddiqui and Chandralekha Singh
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 297-300, doi:10.1063/1.3515227
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Understanding instructors’ attitudes and approaches to teaching quantum mechanics can be helpful in developing research-based learning tools. Here we discuss the findings from a survey in which 13 instructors reflected on issues related to quantum mechanics teaching. Topics included opinions about the goals of a quantum mechanics course, general challenges in teaching the subject, students’ preparation for the course, comparison between their own learning of quantum mechanics vs. how they teach it and the extent to which contemporary topics are incorporated into the syllabus.

S. Siddiqui and C. Singh, Surveying Instructors’ Attitudes and Approaches to Teaching Quantum Mechanics, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 297-300 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515227.

Surveying Students’ Understanding of Quantum Mechanics
Chandralekha Singh and Guangtian Zhu
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 301-304, doi:10.1063/1.3515229
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Development of research-based multiple-choice tests about quantum mechanics is important for assessing students’ difficulties and for evaluating curricula and pedagogies that strive to reduce the difficulties. We explore the difficulties that the undergraduate and graduate students have with non-relativistic quantum mechanics of one particle in one spatial dimension. We developed a research-based conceptual multiple-choice survey that targets these issues to obtain information about the common difficulties and administered it to more than a hundred students from seven different institutions. The issues targeted in the survey include the set of possible wavefunctions, bound and scattering states, quantum measurement, expectation values, the role of the Hamiltonian, time-dependence of wavefunction and time-dependence of expectation value. We find that the advanced undergraduate and graduate students have many common difficulties with these concepts and that research-based tutorials and peer-instruction tools can significantly reduce these difficulties. The survey can be administered to assess the effectiveness of various intructional strategies.

C. Singh and G. Zhu, Surveying Students’ Understanding of Quantum Mechanics, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 301-304 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515229.

Addressing Student Difficulties with Statistical Mechanics: The Boltzmann Factor
Trevor I. Smith, John R. Thompson, and Donald B. Mountcastle
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 305-308, doi:10.1063/1.3515230
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As part of research into student understanding of topics related to thermodynamics and statistical mechanics at the upper division, we have identified student difficulties in applying concepts related to the Boltzmann factor and the canonical partition function. With this in mind, we have developed a guided-inquiry worksheet activity (tutorial) designed to help students develop a better understanding of where the Boltzmann factor comes from and why it is useful. The tutorial guides students through the derivation of both the Boltzmann factor and the canonical partition function. Preliminary results suggest that students who participated in the tutorial had a higher success rate on assessment items than students who had only received lecture instruction on the topic. We present results that motivate the need for this tutorial, the outline of the derivation used, and results from implementations of the tutorial.

T. I. Smith, J. R. Thompson, and D. B. Mountcastle, Addressing Student Difficulties with Statistical Mechanics: The Boltzmann Factor, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 305-308 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515230.

Examining the Beliefs and Practice of Teaching Assistants: Two Case Studies
Benjamin T. Spike and Noah D. Finkelstein
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 309-312, doi:10.1063/1.3515231
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In an effort to study the impact of teaching experience and preparation on the pedagogical beliefs of physics Teaching Assistants (TAs), we investigate the beliefs expressed by TAs following several semesters of teaching with the Tutorials in Introductory Physics. The beliefs of TAs mediate the actions they take in working with students, as well as the classroom norms they set for participation in the Tutorial activity. In this paper, we build upon existing analytic frameworks to characterize two distinct sets of TA beliefs gathered from pre- and post-semester interviews. We also present preliminary indications of coordination between these beliefs and the in-class practices of TAs. We then conclude with implications for the training of TAs in order to promote more pedagogically sophisticated beliefs at a potentially critical time in their professional development.

B. T. Spike and N. D. Finkelstein, Examining the Beliefs and Practice of Teaching Assistants: Two Case Studies, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 309-312 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515231.

Design of a Synthesizing Lecture on Mechanics Concepts
Natalie Strand, Jennifer Docktor, Gary Gladding, Jose P. Mestre, and Brian H. Ross
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 313-316, doi:10.1063/1.3515232
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Within the context of traditional physics problem solving instruction, major concepts are mentioned but often marginalized by the focus on equation manipulation, resulting in students perceiving concepts as unimportant in problem solving. Additionally, since topics are covered as isolated pieces, students also perceive concepts as unrelated. In response to this disconnect, we discuss the development of a short, animated, web-delivered synthesizing presentation modeled after the “common learning resource” from the preparation for future learning construct. In the presentation, major concepts of introductory mechanics are structured hierarchically. More specifically, the presentation is an overview of major theorems and conservation laws in mechanics and the conditions under which they are applied. It is linked to previous problems solved by the students and intended to prepare them for future learning by illustrating how concepts guide problem solving processes.

N. Strand, J. Docktor, G. Gladding, J. P. Mestre, and B. H. Ross, Design of a Synthesizing Lecture on Mechanics Concepts, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 313-316 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515232.

Physics Teacher Characteristics and Classroom Practices
Melissa S. Taylor and Jeffery A. Phillips
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 317-320, doi:10.1063/1.3515233
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One hundred eighteen high school and college teachers in Southern California completed a web-based survey designed to better understand the differences in physics classrooms and the reasons behind the teachers’ choices. Survey topics included teachers’ familiarity and use of research-based instructional strategies, amount of student-student interaction in their classes, their views about teaching and their interactions with the physics teaching community. Partial results from the survey are presented in this paper. Among the findings was that while increased interactions with colleagues correlated with more student-student interactions, increased participation in conferences or reading of journals related to physics teaching did not.

M. S. Taylor and J. A. Phillips, Physics Teacher Characteristics and Classroom Practices, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 317-320 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515233.

Toward an Integrated Online Learning Environment
Raluca E. Teodorescu, Andrew Pawl, Saif Rayyan, Analia Barrantes, and David E. Pritchard
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 321-324, doi:10.1063/1.3515234
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We are building in LON-CAPA an integrated learning environment that will enable the development, dissemination and evaluation of PER-based material. This environment features a collection of multi-level research- based homework sets organized by topic and cognitive complexity. These sets are associated with learning modules that contain very short exposition of the content supplemented by integrated open-access videos, worked examples, simulations, and tutorials (some from ANDES). To assess students’ performance accurately with respect to a system- wide standard, we plan to implement Item Response Theory. Together with other PER assessments and purposeful solicitation of student feedback, this will allow us to measure and improve the efficacy of various research-based materials, while getting insights into teaching and learning.

R. E. Teodorescu, A. Pawl, S. Rayyan, A. Barrantes, and D. E. Pritchard, Toward an Integrated Online Learning Environment, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 321-324 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515234.

Faculty Perspectives On Using Peer Instruction: A National Study
Chandra Turpen, Melissa H. Dancy, and Charles R. Henderson
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 325-328, doi:10.1063/1.3515235
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We previously reported on the results of a national web survey of physics faculty about their instructional practices in introductory physics. A subset of 72 survey respondents were interviewed to better characterize how faculty interact with research-based instructional strategies (RBIS), use RBIS, and perceive their institutional contexts. Drawing from 15 interviews with self-reported users of Peer Instruction, we describe what faculty mean when they identify themselves as users of Peer Instruction. Meanings range from professors adopting the general philosophy of the instructional strategy (or what they believe to be the general philosophy) while inventing how it concretely applies in their classrooms to professors who use the instructional strategy as is, without significant modification. We describe common modifications that are made to Peer Instruction and the associated prevalence of these modifications.

C. Turpen, M. H. Dancy, and C. R. Henderson, Faculty Perspectives On Using Peer Instruction: A National Study, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 325-328 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515235.

Maximum Likelihood Estimation (MLE) of students’ understanding of vector subtraction
Tianren Wang and Eleanor C. Sayre
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 329-332, doi:10.1063/1.3515236
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In this paper, we report on the impact that slight changes in question format have on student response to one-dimensional vector subtraction tasks. We use Maximum Likelihood Estimation (MLE) analysis to analyze students’ responses on six very similar questions which vary in context (physics or mathematics), vector alignment (both pointing to the right or opposed), and operation (left-right subtraction or right-left subtraction). Responses on all questions are generally correct and do not vary by instructional week or even by course. Context and specific operation do not show significant differences. Vector alignment is significantly different, indicating that perception or heuristic thinking is a bigger cause of failure than conceptual deficit. The emphasis in this paper is an introduction to likelihood estimation.

T. Wang and E. C. Sayre, Maximum Likelihood Estimation (MLE) of students’ understanding of vector subtraction, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 329-332 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515236.

Understanding How Students Use Physical Ideas in Introductory Biology Courses
Jessica Watkins, Kristi Hall, Edward F. Redish, and Todd J. Cooke
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 333-336, doi:10.1063/1.3515237
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The University of Maryland (UMD) Biology Education and Physics Education Research Groups are investigating students’ views on the role of physics in introductory biology courses. This paper presents data from an introductory course that addresses the fundamental principles of organismal biology and that incorporates several topics directly related to physics, including thermodynamics, diffusion, and fluid flow. We examine how the instructors use mathematics and physics in this introductory biology course and look at two students’ responses to this use. Our preliminary observations are intended to start a discussion about the epistemological issues resulting from the integration of the science disciplines and to motivate the need for further research.

J. Watkins, K. Hall, E. F. Redish, and T. J. Cooke, Understanding How Students Use Physical Ideas in Introductory Biology Courses, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 333-336 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515237.

Impact of Informal Science Education on Children's Attitudes About Science
Rosemary Wulf, Laurel Mayhew, and Noah D. Finkelstein
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 337-340, doi:10.1063/1.3515238
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The JILA Physics Frontier Center Partnerships for Informal Science Education in the Community (PISEC) provides informal afterschool inquiry-based science teaching opportunities for university participants with children typically underrepresented in science. We focus on the potential for this program to help increase children's interest in science, mathematics, and engineering and their understanding of the nature of science by validating the Children's Attitude Survey, which is based on the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey [1] and designed to measure shifts in children's attitudes about science and the nature of science. We present pre- and post-semester results for several semesters of the PISEC program, and demonstrate that, unlike most introductory physics courses in college, our after- school informal science programs support and promote positive attitudes about science.

R. Wulf, L. Mayhew, and N. D. Finkelstein, Impact of Informal Science Education on Children's Attitudes About Science, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 337-340 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515238.

Students’ Understanding of the Concepts of Vector Components and Vector Products
Genaro Zavala and Pablo Barniol
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 341-344, doi:10.1063/1.3515240
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In this article we investigate students’ understanding of: 1) vector components and, 2) vector products. We administered a test to 409 students completing introductory physics courses at a private Mexican university. In the first part, based on the work of Van Deventer [1], we analyze the understanding of components of a vector. We used multiple-choice questions asking for students’ reasoning to elaborate on the misconceptions and difficulties of graphical representation of the x- and y-components of a vector. In the rest of this work, we analyze the understanding of the dot and cross products. We designed opened-ended questions to investigate the difficulties on the calculation and the misconceptions in the interpretation of these two products.

G. Zavala and P. Barniol, Students’ Understanding of the Concepts of Vector Components and Vector Products, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 341-344 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515240.

Improving Students’ Understanding of Quantum Measurement
Guangtian Zhu and Chandralekha Singh
AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, pp. 345-348, doi:10.1063/1.3515241
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We describe the difficulties advanced undergraduate and graduate students have with quantum measurement. To reduce these difficulties, we have developed research-based learning tools such as the Quantum Interactive Learning Tutorial (QuILT) and peer instruction tools. A preliminary evaluation shows that these learning tools are effective in improving students’ understanding of concepts related to quantum measurement.

G. Zhu and C. Singh, Improving Students’ Understanding of Quantum Measurement, 2010 PERC Proceedings [Portland, OR, July 21-22, 2010], edited by C. Singh, N. S. Rebello, and M. Sabella [AIP Conf. Proc. 1289, 345-348 (2010)], doi:10.1063/1.3515241.