Using the Tutorial Approach to Improve Physics Learning from Introductory to Graduate Level Documents

Main Document

Using the Tutorial Approach to Improve Physics Learning from Introductory to Graduate Level 

written by Seth DeVore

In this thesis, I discuss the development and evaluation of tutorials ranging from introductory to graduate level. Tutorials were developed based upon research on student difficulties in learning relevant concepts and findings of cognitive research. Tutorials are a valuable resource when used either in-class or as a self-study tool. They strive to help students develop a robust knowledge structure of relevant topics and improve their problem solving skills. I discuss the development of a tutorial on the Lock-in amplifier (LIA) for use as both an on-ramp to ease the transition of students entering into the research lab and to improve student understanding of the operation of the LIA for those already making use of this device. The effectiveness of this tutorial was evaluated using think aloud interviews with graduate students possessing a wide range of experience with the LIA and the findings were uniformly positive. I also describe the development and evaluation of a Quantum Interactive Learning Tutorial (QuILT) that focuses on quantum key distribution using two protocols for secure key distribution. One protocol used in the first part of the QuILT is administered to students working collaboratively in class while the second protocol used in the second part of the QuILT was administered as homework. Evaluation of student understanding of the two protocols used in this QuILT shows that it was effective at improving student understanding both immediately after working on the QuILT and two months later. Finally, I discuss the development and evaluation of four web-based tutorials focusing on quantitative problem solving intended to aid introductory students in the learning of effective problem-solving heuristics while helping them learn physics concepts. Findings suggest that while these tutorials are effective when administered in one-on-one think-aloud interviews, this effectiveness is greatly diminished when students are asked to use the tutorials as a self-study to

Published November 18, 2014
Last Modified November 11, 2015