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Abstract

This study proposes a knowledge organization facilitating human performance on scientifically relevant recall and problem-solving tasks. This organization is structured hierarchically so as to describe knowledge at different levels of detail; it is also task-adapted so that higher levels include information most important for implementing the intended tasks. The efficacy of this organization was assessed by two experiments, in experiment I, college-level subjects read a text and performed special training tasks to acquire knowledge of a physics topic organized either in the preceding hierarchical, or in a detailed single-level .organization; a third group read the single-level organization twice. In a subsequent test, subjects with the hierarchical organization performed appreciably better on tasks of recall, error correction, and knowledge modification. In experiment 2, subjects acquired knowledge in either of two alternative hierarchical organizations of the same physics topic, but with information distributed differently over the levels. As expected, in a subsequent test subjects performed better on those tasks depending on information from higher levels of their hierarchical organization. The specially designed training was effective in producing the desired organization of a subject's internal knowledge, but subjects with lower physics grades seemed less able to assimilate and use a hierarchical organization. Similar conclusions were obtained from a third experiment in which internal, knowledge organization was inferred from an analysis of free-recall protocols.

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... The desired learning goals for students in many introductory physics courses often include learning physics concepts and developing expertise in problem-solving and reasoning skills [1][2][3][4][5]. Physics experts, e.g., physics faculty members, organize their physics knowledge hierarchically so that underlying concepts are connected in a meaningful and structured way and they exhibit positive attitudes towards scientific problem solving [6][7][8][9][10][11][12]. Experts' knowledge, including how the knowledge is structured in well-organized schema, and their positive attitudes to problem solving can facilitate an effective approach towards problem solving [9,[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]. ...
... Physics experts, e.g., physics faculty members, organize their physics knowledge hierarchically so that underlying concepts are connected in a meaningful and structured way and they exhibit positive attitudes towards scientific problem solving [6][7][8][9][10][11][12]. Experts' knowledge, including how the knowledge is structured in well-organized schema, and their positive attitudes to problem solving can facilitate an effective approach towards problem solving [9,[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]. By contrast, many introductory students view physics as a collection of disconnected facts and equations and they have less expertlike attitudes towards problem-solving [6,7,9]. ...
... Experts' knowledge, including how the knowledge is structured in well-organized schema, and their positive attitudes to problem solving can facilitate an effective approach towards problem solving [9,[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]. By contrast, many introductory students view physics as a collection of disconnected facts and equations and they have less expertlike attitudes towards problem-solving [6,7,9]. One strategy to achieve the goals related to the development of expertise of introductory physics students and improving their attitudes to problem-solving is to actively-engage them in the learning process using research-based approaches. ...
Preprint
Given a physics scenario, different problem types presenting that scenario in various ways can emphasize different instructional goals. In this investigation, we examined the views of physics graduate teaching assistants (TAs) about the instructional benefits of different types of introductory problems based upon the same problem scenario. Here we report on TAs' views about two of these problem types that were regarded by TAs as the least instructionally beneficial of all problem types--the context rich and multiple-choice formats. Many TAs listed no pros at all for these problem types, despite being explicitly asked for at least one pro. They viewed multiple-choice questions nearly exclusively as tools for high-stakes summative assessment rather than their possible use as formative assessment tools, e.g., as clicker questions even in large classes. Similarly, TAs viewed context-rich problems as overly challenging, unnecessarily wordy, and too time-consuming to be instructionally beneficial to their students. While TAs' concerns have obvious validity and value, the benefits of well-designed multiple-choice questions as a formative assessment tool was not readily identified by them, nor did the TAs recognize the learning benefits associated with solving context-rich problems. Given the powerful ways multiple-choice and context-rich problems can be used for active engagement and formative assessment in different instructional contexts to meet diverse instructional goals, the lack of enthusiasm for these types of problems has implications for future TA professional development programs.
... Although Coulomb's law and the superposition principle are taught extensively in a majority of these courses for science and engineering majors, these concepts are challenging for many students after traditional lecture-based instruction. Despite the fact that students may have learned the superposition principle in the context of forces in introductory mechanics, this learning does not automatically transfer from mechanics to the more abstract context of electrostatics and students often struggle in applying the superposition principle due to the different "surface" features of the electrostatics problems compared to mechanics problems [1][2]. Finding the net electric field due to a charge distribution, discrete or continuous, requires understanding the principle of superposition for the electric fields and students must learn to add the field vectors at a point due to various charges in the region. ...
... Moreover, the difficulties with the conceptual and procedural knowledge become compounded in the context of a continuous charge distribution. Since these concepts are challenging, developing research-validated learning tools to help students learn these concepts can help them develop a more coherent knowledge structure and also improve students' problem solving and reasoning skills [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]. ...
... A sample response from a student for the post-test question (4).FIG. 3. A sample drawing from a student for pretest question(1) showing the direction of the electric field at points A, B, and C. ...
Article
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We discuss an investigation of the difficulties that students in a calculus-based university introductory physics course have with electric field and the superposition principle for the case of a continuous charge distribution and how that research was used as a guide in the development, validation, and evaluation of a tutorial on these topics to help students learn these concepts. The tutorial uses a guided inquiry-based approach to learning and involved an iterative process of development and validation. During the validation process, we obtained feedback both from physics instructors who regularly teach introductory courses in which these concepts are taught and from students for whom the tutorial is intended. Then the final version of the tutorial was administered in several sections of a calculus-based introductory physics course after traditional lecture-based instruction in relevant concepts. We discuss the performance of students in individual interviews and on the pretest administered before the tutorial (but after traditional lecture-based instruction) and on the post-test administered after the tutorial in three sections of the introductory physics course. We also compare student performance in several sections of the course in which students worked on the tutorial with another section in which students only learned the material via traditional lecture-based instruction. We find that students who used the tutorial performed significantly better compared to those who learned the material only via traditional lecture-based instruction.
... Although Coulomb's law and the superposition principle are taught extensively in a majority of these courses for science and engineering majors, these concepts are challenging for many students to grasp after traditional lecture-based instruction only. Despite the fact that students may have learned the superposition principle in the context of forces in introductory mechanics, this learning does not automatically transfer from mechanics to the abstract context of electrostatics and students often struggle in applying the superposition principle due to the different 'surface' features [1,2] of the electrostatics problems compared to mechanics problems. However, finding the net electric field due to a charge distribution requires understanding the principle of superposition for the electric field and students must learn to add the field vectors at a point due to various charges in the region. ...
... However, finding the net electric field due to a charge distribution requires understanding the principle of superposition for the electric field and students must learn to add the field vectors at a point due to various charges in the region. Since these concepts are challenging, developing research-validated learning tools to help students learn these concepts can help them develop a more coherent knowledge structure and can also improve students' problem solving and reasoning skills [1][2][3][4][5][6][7]. ...
... Cognitive theory suggests that learning is incremental and new knowledge builds on prior knowledge [8]. Knowledge gaps can arise from many sources, e.g., a mismatch between the pedagogical approaches and levels at which the material is presented in a course and student's prior knowledge [1][2][3][4][5][6]. Deep-rooted misconceptions can also seriously impede the learning process at all levels in physics instruction [1][2][3][4][5][6]. ...
Article
Full-text available
We discuss an investigation of the difficulties that students in a university introductory physics course have with the electric field and superposition principle and how that research was used as a guide in the development and evaluation of a research-validated tutorial on these topics to help students learn these concepts better. The tutorial uses a guided enquiry-based approach to learning and involved an iterative process of development and evaluation. During its development, we obtained feedback both from physics instructors who regularly teach introductory physics in which these concepts are taught and from students for whom the tutorial is intended. The iterative process continued and the feedback was incorporated in the later versions of the tutorial until the researchers were satisfied with the performance of a diverse group of introductory physics students on the post-test after they worked on the tutorial in an individual one-on-one interview situation. Then the final version of the tutorial was administered in several sections of the university physics course after traditional instruction in relevant concepts. We discuss the performance of students in individual interviews and on the pre-test administered before the tutorial (but after traditional lecture-based instruction) and on the post-test administered after the tutorial. We also compare student performance in sections of the class in which students worked on the tutorial with other similar sections of the class in which students only learned via traditional instruction. We find that students performed significantly better in the sections of the class in which the tutorial was used compared to when students learned the material via only lecture-based instruction.
... Many studies analyzing student problem-solving behavior find that student knowledge organization is one of the key factors distinguishing experts from novices [11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]. Novices' knowledge structures are fragmented and poorly clustered around previously encountered contexts with few links between them [11,12,[15][16][17][18]. ...
... Many studies analyzing student problem-solving behavior find that student knowledge organization is one of the key factors distinguishing experts from novices [11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]. Novices' knowledge structures are fragmented and poorly clustered around previously encountered contexts with few links between them [11,12,[15][16][17][18]. When solving problems, this lack of organization leads to novices relying on surface features and directly matching these features with equations and outcomes [11][12][13]. ...
... Therefore, they are often unable to transfer their understanding to apply the same principle to novel situations. In contrast, experts' knowledge structures are integrated and hierarchically arranged around a few core principles with well-established links connecting a wide range of conceptual components and contextual aspects related to the content domain [11,12,[15][16][17][18]. These connections form a comprehensive network that links concrete contextual features with core conceptual ideas reaching deep in the abstract domain such that experts' knowledge cannot be reduced to simple sets of isolated facts or propositions. ...
Article
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Light interference is an essential topic for understanding the wavelike nature of light, however, there are limited studies on modeling and assessing students’ misconceptions and learning difficulties in this area. Based on the knowledge integration modeling approach, a conceptual framework for light interference is developed and used to model student understanding and guide the development of an assessment tool on light interference. The conceptual framework provides a representation of students’ reasoning pathways to clearly show their connections through different conceptual components and contextual features of problem-solving settings. This type of representation focuses on showing students’ knowledge structures regarding the features of integration and fragmentation. Experts’ reasoning pathways always flow through a central idea of a concept with well-established connections to a wide range of contextual features and conditions. These connections form an integrated knowledge structure, which demonstrates deep understanding. In contrast, novices often focus on surface details without linking the central idea, forming fragmented local connections that link directly between contextual features and task outcomes. As a result, novice students’ problem solving often relies on memorization of formula and solutions without any deep understanding. Through testing and interviews at a large Chinese university, a light interference test (LIT) has been developed and validated. Assessment results also demonstrate that students with a strong conceptual understanding of the central idea are able to apply expertlike reasoning to familiar and novel questions regardless of the contextual details. Meanwhile, students with weaker or nonexistent understanding of the central idea often struggle when novel situations are presented. LIT provides a useful tool to measure students’ conceptual understanding on light interference and probe thought pathways of students’ reasoning that can further indicate students’ knowledge structure and levels of deep understanding.
... A series of studies looked at the differences in abilities produced when students studied hierarchical vs. linear materials that taught a knowledge structure directly. Eylon and Reif (1984) contrasted differences in these two types of instructional methods of acquiring knowledge in the domain of modern physics specifically its' theory and history. The hierarchical organization materials stressed a top down understanding of the knowledge which related how the concepts were linked with the general knowledge or principles in the top level and concept specifics located in the lower levels. ...
... The non-hierarchical treatment consisted of a single level of organization of the knowledge elements contained in the lower level of the hierarchical treatment. Eylon and Reif (1984) evaluated the students after they received the treatment on a number of different tasks. The students were tested to make sure they had developed the given organization and then were given free recall, cued recall and problem-solving reasoning tasks. ...
... It was also shown that these students performed better on complex tasks requiring information from several areas since the organization allowed for higher level connections between pieces of information. In addition, Eylon and Reif (1984) discovered that the hierarchical organization did not allow students to perform better on local tasks which required knowledge of isolated pieces of information. Therefore, the linkage between chunks seemed to produce greater flexibility. ...
Article
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In order to understand why a teaching methodology such as Modeling Instruction in High School Physics might be demonstrating gains in conceptual understanding and problem solving on the part of the students one must review cognition-based research. This article will review the pertinent literature investigating the differences in knowledge structure organization between experts and novices and metacognition. The connection between problem-solving, knowledge structure and metacognition will be seen via a review of studies conducted on the Self-Explanation Effect. The pertinent literature will then be compared with the basic tenets of modeling instruction.
... Since many physics courses focus on both conceptual understanding and problem solving [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8], research-validated conceptual multiple-choice surveys [9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20] can be invaluable. In order to assess whether a particular curriculum or pedagogy is effective in helping introductory physics students learn the fundamental concepts related to thermodynamic processes and the first and second laws, we developed, validated and administered a 33-item conceptual multiple-choice test called the Survey of Thermodynamic Processes and First and Second Laws (STPFaSL) to students at six different colleges in the US. ...
... Similar to previous findings of expertise research, we find that many students immediately focus on whatever the question is asking about instead of making an overall plan to systematically approach the problem solving process [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8]. In many of the problems, reasoning using the first law of thermodynamics is not the first line of reasoning students should use. ...
... It is possible that certain information given in the problem statement (e.g., whether a process is reversible or not) is actually relevant in one situation to solve the problem but not in another. We find that many students did not appropriately recognize or distill the underlying principles and concepts relevant in a problem appropriately or did not know how to systematically exploit them to solve the conceptual survey problems effectively [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8]. ...
Article
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We discuss common student difficulties with the first and second laws of thermodynamics found using a validated conceptual multiple-choice survey called the survey of thermodynamic processes and first and second laws suitable for introductory physics courses. The analysis of data from more than a thousand students using the validated survey at six different colleges in the US shows that not only introductory but also advanced physics students have many common difficulties with these concepts after traditional lecture-based instruction in relevant concepts. The findings of the common student difficulties with the first and second laws of thermodynamics discussed here can be useful for developing effective curricula and pedagogies in order to reduce student difficulties.
... Experimenter-generated outlines benefit students' learning whether they are given before studying (see also the information below on advance organizers; Eggen, Kauchak, & Kirk, 1978;Eylon & Reif, 1984;Glynn & Di Vesta, 1977;Hartley, 1976) or after studying as a review aid (Kiewra, DuBois, Christian, & McShane, 1988; but see Glynn & Di Vesta, 1977). The benefits are observed in text (e.g., Eylon & Reif, 1984) and lecture material (Hartley, 1976;, among college (e.g., Hartley, 1976) and younger students (4th-6th graders: Eggen et al., 1978), and in higher-order assessments such as problem solving (Eylon & Reif, 1984) and transfer (Kiewra & Frank, 1988). ...
... Experimenter-generated outlines benefit students' learning whether they are given before studying (see also the information below on advance organizers; Eggen, Kauchak, & Kirk, 1978;Eylon & Reif, 1984;Glynn & Di Vesta, 1977;Hartley, 1976) or after studying as a review aid (Kiewra, DuBois, Christian, & McShane, 1988; but see Glynn & Di Vesta, 1977). The benefits are observed in text (e.g., Eylon & Reif, 1984) and lecture material (Hartley, 1976;, among college (e.g., Hartley, 1976) and younger students (4th-6th graders: Eggen et al., 1978), and in higher-order assessments such as problem solving (Eylon & Reif, 1984) and transfer (Kiewra & Frank, 1988). ...
... Experimenter-generated outlines benefit students' learning whether they are given before studying (see also the information below on advance organizers; Eggen, Kauchak, & Kirk, 1978;Eylon & Reif, 1984;Glynn & Di Vesta, 1977;Hartley, 1976) or after studying as a review aid (Kiewra, DuBois, Christian, & McShane, 1988; but see Glynn & Di Vesta, 1977). The benefits are observed in text (e.g., Eylon & Reif, 1984) and lecture material (Hartley, 1976;, among college (e.g., Hartley, 1976) and younger students (4th-6th graders: Eggen et al., 1978), and in higher-order assessments such as problem solving (Eylon & Reif, 1984) and transfer (Kiewra & Frank, 1988). ...
Article
Full-text available
Researchers’ and educators’ enthusiasm in applying cognitive principles to enhance educational practices has become more evident. Several published reviews have suggested that some potent strategies can help students learn more efficaciously. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, students do not report frequent reliance on these empirically supported techniques. In the present review, we take a novel approach, identifying study strategies for which students have strong preferences and assessing whether these preferred strategies have any merit given existing empirical evidence from the cognitive and educational literatures. Furthermore, we provide concrete recommendations for students, instructors, and psychologists. For students, we identify common pitfalls and tips for optimal implementation for each study strategy. For instructors, we provide recommendations for how they can assist students to more optimally implement these study strategies. For psychologists, we highlight promising avenues of research to help augment these study strategies.
... Students may show fluency in typical textbook problems, but when faced with problems that are context rich and less familiar, they tend to rely on pattern matching of memorized equations with little engagement of applying conceptual understanding [1][2][3][4]6]. When it comes to differentiating experts from novices, context dependence and connectedness of students' knowledge structures, as demonstrated in previous studies, are considered to be key factors [7][8][9][10][11][12][13]. Novices' fragmented knowledge structures tend to be poorly clustered with few localized links that are mostly situated in familiar contexts [7,8,[10][11][12][13], which lead to problem solving strategies that rely on memorized processes cued by surface features [7,8]. ...
... Students may show fluency in typical textbook problems, but when faced with problems that are context rich and less familiar, they tend to rely on pattern matching of memorized equations with little engagement of applying conceptual understanding [1][2][3][4]6]. When it comes to differentiating experts from novices, context dependence and connectedness of students' knowledge structures, as demonstrated in previous studies, are considered to be key factors [7][8][9][10][11][12][13]. Novices' fragmented knowledge structures tend to be poorly clustered with few localized links that are mostly situated in familiar contexts [7,8,[10][11][12][13], which lead to problem solving strategies that rely on memorized processes cued by surface features [7,8]. On the other hand, experts appear to have an integrated knowledge structure that is hierarchically arranged as a network around a few core principles. ...
... On the other hand, experts appear to have an integrated knowledge structure that is hierarchically arranged as a network around a few core principles. The structures involve many consistent and long-range links across all elements from concrete surface features to deep into the abstract domain [7,8,[10][11][12][13]. This better enables experts to apply these principles across different domains and in unfamiliar contexts [7,9]. ...
Article
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Momentum is a foundational concept in physics. Although it is often taught in introductory mechanics courses, there are a limited number of studies on this topic in the literature. The results from these studies have consistently shown that students have difficulties in understanding momentum, especially the connections between net force, time, and change in momentum, which are signs of fragmented knowledge structure and poor knowledge integration. This study adopts the conceptual framework representation to model student understanding and guide the design of an assessment test on momentum. Informed by the previous work on knowledge integration, the conceptual framework maps out the key concepts and their connections within a student's knowledge structure. Recent studies have shown that a conceptual framework can be used as a guide to create assessment items that follow different reasoning pathways, probing various misconceptions and student difficulties. In this study, an assessment of momentum was developed and tested among a large number of U.S. college freshmen and Chinese high school students. Based on testing and interview results, students' understanding is separated into three progression levels of knowledge integration including novice-like, transitional, and expert-like. Furthermore, the comparison between the two countries' curriculum and momentum test results indicates that an emphasis on the central idea of impulse-momentum theorem can be an essential instructional strategy to help students make the necessary connections within their knowledge structure, leading to a deeper conceptual understanding of momentum.
... One characteristic of prior research studies has been that they have mostly focused on how introductory physics students differ from physics experts [26][27][28][29][30] and strategies that may help introductory students learn to learn [15,16,[31][32][33][34][35]. By comparison, few investigations have focused on the learning skills of advanced physics students, although some investigations have been carried out on the difficulties advanced students have with advanced topics such as quantum physics and how to help them learn quantum mechanics better [36][37][38][39][40]. ...
... Moreover, many introductory physics students are "captive audiences"they may not buy into the goals of the course and their main goal becomes getting a good grade even if their learning is superficial [31]. Research suggests that the introductory physics students can benefit from explicit guidance and feedback in developing problem solving and learning skills and alignment of course goals with assessment methods [10][11][12][13][14][15][16][31][32][33][34][35]44,45]. However, it is commonly assumed that the learning skills of students in advanced physics courses are superior to those of students in introductory courses so they will monitor their learning and learn from their mistakes. ...
Article
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An earlier investigation found that the performance of advanced students in a quantum mechanics course did not automatically improve from midterm to final exam on identical problems even when they were provided the correct solutions and their own graded exams. Here, we describe a study, which extended over four years, in which upper-level undergraduate students in a quantum physics course were given four identical problems in both the midterm exam and final exam. Approximately half of the students were given explicit incentives to correct their mistakes in the midterm exam. In particular, they could get back up to 50% of the points lost on each midterm exam problem. The solutions to the midterm exam problems were provided to all students in both groups but those who corrected their mistakes were provided the solution after they submitted their corrections to the instructor. The performance on the same problems on the final exam suggests that students who were given incentives to correct their mistakes significantly outperformed those who were not given an incentive. The incentive to correct the mistakes had greater impact on the final exam performance of students who had not performed well on the midterm exam.
... The desired learning goals for students in many introductory physics courses often include learning physics concepts and developing expertise in problemsolving and reasoning skills, see e.g., Refs. [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17]. The cognitive apprenticeship model can serve as a useful model to support these goals. ...
... Physics experts, e.g., physics faculty members, organize their physics knowledge hierarchically so that underlying concepts are connected in a meaningful and structured way [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16] and they exhibit positive approaches and attitudes towards scientific problem solving. An expertlike, efficient problem-solving approach involves systematically analyzing a problem and planning a solution path (including drawing a diagram, decomposing the problem into subproblems, and carefully contemplating the knowns and unknowns), implementing the solution plan, and checking the results [19][20][21][22][23][24]. ...
Article
Full-text available
We examined physics graduate teaching assistants’ views about introductory physics problem “types,” i.e., different ways of posing the same underlying physics problem, within the context of a semester-long teaching assistant (TA) professional development course. Here, we focus on TAs’ views about two types of broken-into-parts problems that involve the same underlying physics scenario. One of these problem types does not involve explicit calculation, while the other does. The TAs were asked to list the pros and cons of these two types of broken-into-parts problems, rank them compared to other problem types (e.g., traditional textbook problem not broken-into-parts, context-rich problem, and multiple-choice problem) with the same underlying scenario in terms of their instructional benefit and the level of challenge they might produce for their students, and describe when and how likely they would be to use these types of problems in their own classes in different instructional situations if they had complete control of teaching the class. TAs reported that they found the broken-into-parts problem type to be the most instructionally beneficial out of all the problem types because of the guidance such problems offer, and would use a broken-into-parts problem type often and in a variety of ways (e.g., homework assignments, exams, and quizzes). While providing guidance to students is an appropriate instructional approach, our findings from interviews suggest that many TAs may be motivated to assign broken-into-parts problems out of a desire to make the problem-solving process easy and/or less stressful for students, especially because they felt that introductory students may not be capable of breaking a problem into subproblems on their own. The instructional benefits of gradually removing the scaffolding support to help students develop self-reliance in solving problems appeared to be overlooked by most TAs. In particular, in written responses or in interviews, most TAs did not mention a long-term goal of helping students develop more independence in problem solving for which one may start with broken-into-parts problems and gradually transition to problems that are not broken into parts. While the study findings that provide a snapshot of TA views in the middle and at the end of a TA professional development course may only apply to graduate TAs at a similar large university, at those institutions, professional development of TAs should take into account these findings and help TAs reflect on the important role that removing scaffolding support gradually and providing adequate challenge can play in helping introductory students develop self-reliance and become independent, expertlike problem solvers.
... Reference [1] is a synthesis of discipline-based education research in physics and Ref. [2] is an overview of physics education research on problem solving. In particular, Chi et al. [3] conducted research showing differences in the expert-novice problems solving via problem categorization and Reif et al. [4][5][6] investigated the effect of knowledge organization on task performance and prescribed effective problem solving processes. ...
... Physics experts, e.g., physics faculty members, organize their physics knowledge hierarchically so that the underlying concepts are connected in a meaningful and structured way in schema and they generally exhibit positive attitudes and employ effective approaches to scientific problem solving . Experts' knowledge is structured in well-organized schema and their positive attitudes and effective approaches to problem solving can facilitate desired problem solution [3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][39][40][41][42]. By contrast, novices, e.g., many introductory students, do not possess a wellorganized knowledge structure and they view physics as a collection of disconnected facts and equations, and often have less expertlike attitudes and approaches to problem solving. ...
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Over the course of instruction, not only does most introductory physics students’ content knowledge evolve but their attitudes and approaches to problem solving are also likely to evolve. This change may depend on many factors including the curricula and pedagogies used, the degree to which instruction actively engages students in the learning process, as well as the gender of the students. While changes in epistemology and beliefs about physics have been examined in the literature, how students’ attitudes and approaches to problem solving change from the beginning to the end of instruction in introductory physics and how method of instruction or gender of the student impact them remain largely unexplored. To examine the potential changes in attitudes and approaches to problem solving over a semester, we administered a previously validated attitudes and approaches to problem solving (AAPS) survey both at the beginning (pre) and at the end of instruction (post) in eight large enrollment calculus-based introductory physics classes at a large research university in the United States. At both points in time (beginning and end of a semester of instruction), each class was also given surveys measuring students’ conceptual understanding: the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) or the Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism (CSEM), depending upon whether it was the first or second semester course. In addition, final exam scores, gender of students, and descriptions of the instructional methods used for each class were collected. The AAPS survey was used to measure students’ attitudes and approaches to problem solving, and the conceptual surveys and exam scores were used to measure the degree to which each course helped students learn physics concepts. We examined students’ performance on the AAPS survey, FCI or CSEM, and final exams, and compared the results for different instructional methods, and gender of students. Moreover, we examined whether or not there were correlations between the expertlike response on the AAPS survey and the performance on FCI or CSEM or final exams. We found that all classes exhibited a decline in score on the AAPS survey suggesting worse attitudes related to problem solving after instruction. Furthermore, controlling for the initial scores, classes which involved significant use of evidence-based active engagement methods exhibited statistically significantly better scores on the AAPS survey at the end of the course compared to classes which were taught primarily using a traditional lecture-based approach. Equally importantly, unlike broader epistemological surveys, female students were found to exhibit less of a decline in AAPS scores than did their male counterparts in all classes and the AAPS scores were always higher for female students at the end of the course. Future research should contemplate how this novel finding may be effectively exploited to develop and implement curricula and pedagogies to reduce the gender gap in performance often observed in introductory physics.
... Two key aspects that differentiate experts and novices are the connectedness and context dependence of their knowledge structures. Experts have an integrated knowledge structure, where ideas are hierarchically organized as a network around a few key principles, with many consistent and long-range links around these ideas from concrete surface features deep into the abstract domain [4][5][6][7][8][9]. Therefore, experts are able to see past the surface features during problem solving, and recognize the key variables across different domains and in unfamiliar contexts [4,10]. ...
... Therefore, experts are able to see past the surface features during problem solving, and recognize the key variables across different domains and in unfamiliar contexts [4,10]. Conversely, novices have fragmented knowledge structures, where ideas are clustered with localized links that are mostly situated in familiar contexts [4][5][6][7][8][9]. Therefore, novices usually adopt problemsolving strategies that rely on memorized processes cued by surface features, and immediately search for an equation by matching the given information with possible related variables [4,5]. ...
Article
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Problem-solving categorization tasks have been well studied and used as an effective tool for assessment of student knowledge structure. In this study, a traditional free-response categorization test has been modified into a multiple-choice format, and the effectiveness of this new assessment is evaluated. Through randomized testing with Chinese college students, the multiple-choice categorization test has been shown to provide equivalent measurement compared to the open-ended test. In addition, the influence of including diagrams in problems on students' categorization performances has also been studied, which suggests that the inclusion of diagrams in problems can improve students' performances in identifying the relevant concepts. The results also show that the knowledge structures of the Chinese college students are in the early transitional stage between novices and experts.
... Further probing suggests that this student did not know how to compute the resistance of the light bulbs for the wattage version of the questions so he simply chose to ignore it and assumed that the current alone determines the brightness in the wattage version. This type of inconsistency in responses to different versions of the questions and ignoring certain information that students do not know how to find suggests that these introductory students are still developing expertise [17][18][19][20][21]. ...
Article
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We discuss a study of student reasoning difficulties and approaches while solving problems about the brightness of non-identical light bulbs connected in series and parallel. The questions about the light bulbs can be solved quantitatively even though they were posed as conceptual problems. We compare the performance of introductory physics students with that of a set of physics PhD students and find that these problems related to non-identical light bulbs are difficult even for PhD students. We also conducted individual interviews with six introductory students to obtain an in-depth understanding of their approaches and rationale for solving the problems in a particular way. We discuss the conceptual difficulties displayed in the interviews and in the written responses in which introductory physics students were asked to explain their reasoning. In addition to confirming some misconceptions which have previously been observed in the context of equal wattage light bulbs, use of unequal wattage light bulbs in this research reveals misconceptions not documented previously.
... Expert and novices categorize problems differently; novices by surface features and experts by deeper conceptual divisions [30,31]. One commonly accepted difference in the knowledge structure of experts is the hierarchical nature of the structure, with the most fundamental principles at the top and less fundamental concepts branching out from there [32][33][34]. This more deliberate structuring of knowledge allows experts to engage more efficiently in chunking of knowledge [35][36][37] for more expedient application of the correct physics principles when engaging in problem solving. ...
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Research on the test structure of the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) has largely been performed with exploratory methods such as factor analysis and cluster analysis. Multi-Dimensional Item Response Theory (MIRT) provides an alternative to traditional Exploratory Factor Analysis which allows statistical testing to identify the optimal number of factors. Application of MIRT to a sample of $N=4,716$ FCI post-tests identified a 9-factor solution as optimal. Additional analysis showed that a substantial part of the identified factor structure resulted from the practice of using problem blocks and from pairs of similar questions. Applying MIRT to a reduced set of FCI items removing blocked items and repeated items produced a 6-factor solution; however, the factors had little relation the general structure of Newtonian mechanics. A theoretical model of the FCI was constructed from expert solutions and fit to the FCI by constraining the MIRT parameter matrix to the theoretical model. Variations on the theoretical model were then explored to identify an optimal model. The optimal model supported the differentiation of Newton's 1st and 2nd law; of one-dimensional and three-dimensional kinematics; and of the principle of the addition of forces from Newton's 2nd law. The model suggested by the authors of the FCI was also fit; the optimal MIRT model was statistically superior.
... By contrast, physicists' knowledge tends to be arranged in a very hierarchical structure, with many ideas and concepts subordinate to a few main ideas (Reif, 1995;Redish, 1994). There is some evidence that knowledge organized in this manner is more easily accessed and used by students to perform various tasks as well as being retained for longer periods of time (Eylon & Reif, 1984). ...
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Physics as a science subject is a foundation upon which the scientific and technological advancement of any nation rests. Physics instruction at secondary education is activity and practical-oriented and needs activity base method for teaching the subject. The paper discussed the use of Model-lead-Test (MLT) instructional strategy in enhancing physics delivery in secondary education. MLT is an activity and practical oriented method of teaching physics for efficient access to needed information in Physics. It is a transmission –style instruction that is student centered. The MLT strategy comprises three stage processes for teaching. The strategy involves the teacher modeling the problem for the students, leading the students through the problem and then testing the students on what they have learned. The MLT strategy encourages learning independently, emphasizes rapid feedback and guide students to express and reflect on their own. This paper examined the status of Physics instruction delivery in Nigeria, implementation considerations of the MLT strategy as well as principles of operation of the MLT for efficient Physics delivery.
... Electricity and magnetism are important topics covered in many introductory physics courses in high school and college. Therefore, several prior investigations have focused on the difficulties introductory physics students have with electricity and magnetism and instructional strategies that can help students learn those concepts well [14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31] and develop robust problem solving and reasoning skills [32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39]. ...
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Development of validated physics surveys on various topics is important for investigating the extent to which students master those concepts after traditional instruction and for assessing innovative curricula and pedagogies that can improve student understanding significantly. Here, we discuss the development and validation of a conceptual multiple-choice survey related to magnetism suitable for introductory physics courses. The survey was developed taking into account common students' difficulties with magnetism concepts covered in introductory physics courses found in our investigation and the incorrect choices to the multiple-choice questions were designed based upon those common student difficulties. After the development and validation of the survey, it was administered to introductory physics students in various classes in paper–pencil format before and after traditional lecture-based instruction in relevant concepts. We compared the performance of students on the survey in the algebra-based and calculus-based introductory physics courses before and after traditional lecture-based instruction in relevant magnetism concepts. We discuss the common difficulties of introductory physics students with magnetism concepts we found via the survey. We also administered the survey to upper-level undergraduates majoring in physics and PhD students to benchmark the survey and compared their performance with those of traditionally taught introductory physics students for whom the survey is intended. A comparison with the base line data on the validated magnetism survey from traditionally taught introductory physics courses and upper-level undergraduate and PhD students discussed in this paper can help instructors assess the effectiveness of curricula and pedagogies which is especially designed to help students integrate conceptual and quantitative understanding and develop a good grasp of the concepts. In particular, if introductory physics students' average performance in a class is significantly better than those of students in traditionally taught courses described here (and particularly when it is comparable to that of physics PhD students' average performance discussed here), the curriculum or pedagogy used in that introductory class can be deemed effective. Moreover, we discuss the use of the survey to investigate gender differences in student performance.
... In summary, recalling procedural knowledge is a difficult task for students. Students do not use the business process models lectured in the class to arrange procedure steps into chunks with a large amount of information (Eylon & Reif, 1984) and to organize these steps into a comprehensive schema to aid in recalling (Bower et al., 1969). Hence, they are forced to use fragmentary semantic and episodic memories to speculate on the document's content. ...
Article
This study explores and analyzes students’ difficulties in learning an ERP system to help design more appropriate teaching methods and materials. Global enterprises have widely used ERP systems to manage their operations effectively and efficiently. Hence, many business schools have offered courses on ERP systems to sharpen ERP skills for their students. To help design more appropriate teaching methods and materials for ERP learning, one must know students’ difficulties in understanding. This study analyzes students’ difficulties in learning the Oracle E-Business Suite ERP system through interviews and qualitative analysis. As a result, this study identifies five categories of problems in the various areas of the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. Their relevant educational objectives can guide the redesign of ERP teaching methods and materials. One of the difficulties belongs to the area of Remember Factual Knowledge. The rest of them are in Understand, Remember, Apply, and Analysis of Procedural Knowledge. Lastly, this study provides some implications for teaching ERP.
... INTRODUCTION Investigations of students' common conceptual difficulties with symmetry and Gauss's law are important for designing instructional strategies to reduce them and also to improve students' problem solving skills[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]. Several prior studies have focused on the difficulties that introductory physics students have with electricity and magnetism concepts and strategies that may help students learn the concepts better. ...
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We discuss an investigation of student difficulties with symmetry and Gauss's law and how the research on students' difficulties was used as a guide to develop a tutorial related to these topics to help students in the calculus-based introductory physics courses learn these concepts. During the development of the tutorial, we interviewed students individually at various stages of development and administered written tests in the free-response and multiple-choice formats on these concepts to learn about common student difficulties. We also obtained feedback from physics instructors who teach introductory physics courses regularly in which these concepts were covered. The students in several 'equivalent' sections worked on the tutorial after traditional lecture-based instruction. We discuss the performance of students on the written pre-test (administered after lecture-based instruction in relevant concepts) and post-test given after students worked on the tutorial. We find that on the pre-test, all sections of the course performed comparably regardless of the instructor. Also, on average, student performance on the post-test after working on the tutorial is significantly better than on the pre-test after lecture-based instruction. We also compare the post-test performance of introductory students in sections of the course in which the tutorial was used versus not used and find that sections in which students engaged with the tutorial outperformed those in which students did not engage with it.
... The desired learning goals for students in many introductory physics courses often include learning physics concepts and developing expertise in problem-solving and reasoning skills [1][2][3][4][5]. Physics experts, e.g., physics faculty members, organize their physics knowledge hierarchically so that underlying concepts are connected in a meaningful and structured way and they exhibit positive attitudes towards scientific problem solving [6][7][8][9][10][11][12]. ...
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Physics problems can be posed in different ways. Given a physics scenario, different problem types presenting that scenario in various ways can emphasize different instructional goals. In this investigation, we examined the views of physics graduate teaching assistants (TAs) enrolled in a semester-long TA professional development course about the instructional benefits of different types of introductory problems based upon the same problem scenario to generate discussion and reflection on their use in different instructional situations. The TAs were asked to list the pros and cons of the problem types, rank them in terms of their instructional benefit and the level of challenge they might produce for their students, and describe when and how often they would use different types of problems in their own classes if they had complete control of teaching the class. Here we report on TAs’ views about two of these problem types that were regarded by TAs as the least instructionally beneficial of all problem types—the context-rich and multiple-choice formats. Many TAs listed no pros at all for these problem types, despite being explicitly asked for at least one pro. They viewed multiple-choice questions nearly exclusively as tools for high stakes summative assessment rather than their possible use as formative assessment tools, e.g., as clicker questions even in large classes. Similarly, TAs viewed context-rich problems as overly challenging, unnecessarily wordy, and too time consuming to be instructionally beneficial to their students. It is possible that in the written responses, TAs could have focused on the example problems provided to illustrate each problem type. Therefore, discussion in the TA professional development class and in the follow-up interviews explicitly included a focus on the general instructional benefits of well-designed multiple-choice and context-rich problems in different instructional contexts based upon the goals. It appears that TAs’ sentiments were general views about these types of problems, and not just their views about the specific examples that the TAs were given in order to illustrate a problem type. While TAs’ concerns have obvious validity and value, the benefits of well-designed multiple-choice questions as a formative assessment tool was not readily identified by them, nor did the TAs recognize the learning benefits associated with solving context-rich problems. Given the powerful ways multiple-choice and context-rich problems can be used for active engagement and formative assessment in different instructional contexts to meet diverse instructional goals, the lack of enthusiasm for these types of problems has implications for future TA professional development programs.
... Moving from novice to expert level as a physics problem-solver requires a greater development of skills and strategies (Docktor et al. 2016;Mayer 1998). The expert solver knows the ways to identify physics problems, organise and interpret data, and formulate solutions (Chi et al. 1981;Eylon and Reif 1984;Larkin 1979;Reif 1981;Sweller 1988). Expert physics problem-solvers are superior to novice physics problem-solvers in terms of their analytical skills (Robbins 2011;Williams 2018), which include ordering, comparing, contrasting, evaluating and selecting correct strategies. ...
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Pre-service science teachers learn about metacognitive knowledge theoretically in their pedagogy courses; however, teaching practice in science classes reveals the theory–practice gap in their metacognitive knowledge, which has practical importance for prospective teachers. This paper reports on an experiment conducted to investigate the influence of self-metacognitive questioning for non-routine quantum physics problems on pre-service science teachers’ attitudes towards a quantum physics course. Pre-service teacher participants in the experimental and control groups were taught the subjects of quantum physics for 14 weeks, but only those in the experimental group were guided by self-metacognitive questioning during their engagement of non-routine problem-solving as a treatment process. The results indicate that self-metacognitive questioning for non-routine quantum physics problems creates a statistical effect favouring the experimental group students’ attitudes towards the quantum physics course. However, the positive change in the control group is explained by the postulates of the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) of persuasion.
... Extensive research has found two major differences between expert and novice problem solvers: their knowledge organization and their problem-solving process [20][21][22]. Experts organize their knowledge in interconnected chunks, hierarchically grouped around a small number of fundamental principles [23,24] and have organized decisionmaking processes that help them choose relevant principles for solving a problem [25]. Many of these processes are so automated that they are not explicitly displayed or even recognized by the expert. ...
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Problem solving is a complex process valuable in everyday life and crucial for learning in the STEM fields. To support the development of problem-solving skills it is important for researchers and curriculum developers to have practical tools that can measure the difference between novice and expert problem-solving performance in authentic classroom work. It is also useful if such tools can be employed by instructors to guide their pedagogy. We describe the design, development, and testing of a simple rubric to assess written solutions to problems given in undergraduate introductory physics courses. In particular, we present evidence for the validity, reliability, and utility of the instrument. The rubric identifies five general problem-solving processes and defines the criteria to attain a score in each: organizing problem information into a Useful Description, selecting appropriate principles (Physics Approach), applying those principles to the specific conditions in the problem (Specific Application of Physics), using Mathematical Procedures appropriately, and displaying evidence of an organized reasoning pattern (Logical Progression).
... For skilled problem solvers, principles or concepts in memory are also bundled with contexts or conditions in which they can be applied and with procedures for applying them [2,15,19]. This type of integration of major ideas, contexts, and procedures provides skilled solvers with a hierarchically structured, well-integrated knowledge base that guides their problem solving [17,18,20]. Since building such a knowledge base takes considerable time and effort, an important consideration is whether there is benefit in attempting to help students in introductory courses develop the type of knowledge needed for skilled problem solving. ...
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Problem solving is a critical element of learning physics. However, traditional instruction often emphasizes the quantitative aspects of problem solving such as equations and mathematical procedures rather than qualitative analysis for selecting appropriate concepts and principles. This study describes the development and evaluation of an instructional approach called Conceptual Problem Solving (CPS) which guides students to identify principles, justify their use, and plan their solution in writing before solving a problem. The CPS approach was implemented by high school physics teachers at three schools for major theorems and conservation laws in mechanics and CPS-taught classes were compared to control classes taught using traditional problem solving methods. Information about the teachers' implementation of the approach was gathered from classroom observations and interviews, and the effectiveness of the approach was evaluated from a series of written assessments. Results indicated that teachers found CPS easy to integrate into their curricula, students engaged in classroom discussions and produced problem solutions of a higher quality than before, and students scored higher on conceptual and problem solving measures.
... Experts tend to categorize conceptual problems in a more deliberate way than novices, focusing on the hierarchical structure of the knowledge starting with the most fundamental principles and branching out from there to the less fundamental principles [35][36][37][38][39]. This more efficient way of organizing understanding allows experts to more expediently solve physics problems from first principles [40][41][42]. ...
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[This paper is part of the Focused Collection on Quantitative Methods in PER: A Critical Examination.] While many studies have examined the structure, validity, and reliability of the Force Concept Inventory, far less research has been performed on other conceptual instruments in widespread use in physics education research. This study performs a confirmatory analysis of the Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism (CSEM) guided by a theoretical model of expert understanding of electricity and magnetism. Multidimensional Item Response Theory (MIRT) with the discrimination matrix constrained to the theoretical model was used to investigate two large datasets (N1=2014 and N2=2657) from two research universities in the United States. The optimal model identified by MIRT was similar, but not identical, for the two datasets and had very good model fit with comparative fit indices of 0.975 and 0.984, respectively. The most parsimonious optimal model required 23 independent principles of electricity and magnetism and was significantly better fitting than a more general model dividing the CSEM into 6 general topics. The optimal models for the two samples were quite similar, sharing 22 of a possible 26 conceptual principles. Most of the overall item difficulties and discriminations were significantly different between the two samples; however, the rank order of the overall difficulty and discrimination were generally similar. There was much more similarity between the discrimination by item of the individual principles. Five items had a difficulty ranking that was substantially different between the two samples, indicating that while generally similar, relative difficulty does depend on the student population and instructional environment.
... As the concepts and ideas within the text build up into a linked structure through text reuse, elaborating on previous sections of text and developing new ideas, these arguments then link together to form a cohesive representation of the text. If the text is structured to be cohesive then the text will be easier for the reader to create a well-structured and meaningful mental representation of the information in the text (Eylon & Reif, 1984). ...
Thesis
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We increasingly spend a vast amount of time on the Web and much of that time is spent reading. One of the main differences between reading non-Web based text and reading on the Web is the presence of hyperlinks within the text, linking various related Web content and webpages together. Some researchers and commentators have claimed that hyperlinks hinder reading because they are a distraction that may have a negative effect on the reader’s ability to process the text. However, very few controlled experiments have been conducted to verify these claims. In the experiments documented here we utilise eye tracking as a new methodology for examining how we read hyperlinked text. During reading we move our eyes in order to bring new information into our fovea where the highest visual acuity is present. There is a well-documented tight link between when and where we look and what we process. By measuring eye movements,we can gain insights into the ongoing cognitive processing that is occurring during a task. Eye movements have been used extensively to help us to understand the cognitive processing that occurs during reading, but there has been very little research into how our reading differs when we read information on the Web.Therefore, in this thesis we examine the influences of hyperlinks on reading on the Web
... Additionally, this idea of fragmentation is demonstrated through many studies on student problem solving in physics and other fields. It has been shown that a student's knowledge organization is a key aspect for distinguishing experts from novices (Bagno, Eylon, & Ganiel, 2000;Chi, Feltovich, & Glaser, 1981;De Jong & Ferguson-Hesler, 1986;Eylon & Reif, 1984;Ferguson-Hesler & De Jong, 1990;Heller & Reif, 1984;Larkin, McDermott, Simon, & Simon, 1980;Smith, 1992;Veldhuis, 1990;Wexler, 1982). Expert's knowledge is organized around core principles of physics, which are applied to guide problem solving and develop connections between different domains as well as new, unfamiliar situations (Brown, 1989;. ...
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Education goals have evolved to emphasize student acquisition of the knowledge and attributes necessary to successfully contribute to the workforce and global economy of the twenty-first Century. The new education standards emphasize higher end skills including reasoning, creativity, and open problem solving. Although there is substantial research evidence and consensus around identifying essential twenty-first Century skills, there is a lack of research that focuses on how the related subskills interact and develop over time. This paper provides a brief review of physics education research as a means for providing a context towards future work in promoting deep learning and fostering abilities in high-end reasoning. Through a synthesis of the literature around twenty-first Century skills and physics education, a set of concretely defined education and research goals are suggested for future research, along with how these may impact the next generation physics courses and how physics should be taught in the future.
... To see this, we have to acknowledge that the mere amount of factual knowledge is of rather minor importance in its usefulness (Day et al., 2001). Far more relevant is the structure of the nomological network that organises this knowledge and makes it accessible (Eylon & Reif, 1984;Johnson-Laird, 1983). ...
Article
The introductory phase of studying physics poses a wide range of challenging problems to new students. One of them is learning physics on a new, more abstract and highly mathematised level, at high speed, in a lowly regulated learning environment. While several German universities have taken action to mitigate these problems, much knowledge about the problem's core is unavailable, such as information about typical knowledge baselines, probable learning speeds and factors predicting higher or lower individual performance. This study introduces a widely useable test instrument in the context of classical mechanics for a longitudinal study in the first year of study. The analyses presented are based on the psychological, rather than contend-dominated, theory of hierarchical complexity of tasks, which describes the process of learning in an abstract albeit easily testable way. Students are assigned levels that provide information about their general ability to cope with the highly complex presentation of university physics. This framework is then used to obtain a typical starting ability as well as typical patterns of students' development through the level system. As the initial abilities turn out as low as expected, we are able to state the typical learning speed as about one level per year. Further analysis of those students significantly above or below that threshold can be helpful. While high performers can be characterised by high initial mathematical knowledge, low performers are typically less socially integrated with their peers.
... In the past two decades, physics education research has identified the challenges that students encounter in learning physics at all levels of instruction [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]. Building on these investigations, researchers are developing, implementing, and evaluating evidencebased curricula and pedagogies to reduce these challenges to help students develop a coherent understanding of physics concepts and enhance their problem solving, reasoning, and meta-cognitive skills [16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27]. In evidence-based curricula and pedagogies, the learning goals and objectives, instructional design, and assessment of learning are aligned with each other and there is focus on evaluating whether the pedagogical approaches employed have been successful in meeting the goals and enhancing student learning. ...
Preprint
We describe the impact of physics education research-based pedagogical techniques in flipped and active-engagement non-flipped courses on student performance on validated conceptual surveys. We compare student performance in courses that make significant use of evidence-based active engagement (EBAE) strategies with courses that primarily use lecture-based (LB) instruction. All courses had large enrollment and often had 100-200 students. The analysis of data for validated conceptual surveys presented here includes data from large numbers of students from two-semester sequences of introductory algebra-based and calculus-based introductory physics courses. The conceptul surveys used to assess student learning in the first and second semester courses were the Force Concept Inventory and the Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism, respectively. In the research discussed here, the performance of students in EBAE courses at a particular level is compared with LB courses in two situations: (i) the same instructor taught two courses, one of which was a flipped course involving EBAE methods and the other an LB course, while the homework, recitations, and final exams were kept the same; (ii) student perforamnce in all of the EBAE courses taught by different instructors was averaged and compared with LB courses of the same type also averaged over different instructors. In all classes, we find that students in courses that make significant use of active-engagement strategies, on average, outperformed students in courses using primarily LB instruction of the same type on conceptual surveys even though there was no statistically significant difference on the pretest before instruction. We also discuss correlation between the performance on the validated conceptual surveys and the final exam, which typically placed a heavy weight on quantitative problem solving.
... [12,13,29]). Experts organize their knowledge in interconnected chunks, hierarchically grouped around a small number of fundamental principles [30,31] and have organized decision-making processes that help them choose relevant principles for solving a problem [32]. In contrast, novices have fragmented or weakly connected knowledge, and their decision-making processes are often narrowly context related. ...
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The combination of modern computing power, the interactivity of web applications, and the flexibility of object-oriented programming may finally be sufficient to create computer coaches that can help students develop metacognitive problem-solving skills, an important competence in our rapidly changing technological society. However, no matter how effective such coaches might be, they will only be useful if they are attractive to students. We describe the design and testing of a set of web-based computer programs that act as personal coaches to students while they practice solving problems from introductory physics. The coaches are designed to supplement regular human instruction, giving students access to effective forms of practice outside class. We present results from large-scale usability tests of the computer coaches and discuss their implications for future versions of the coaches.
... This aspect of instruction was consistent with student work in CMP, although CMP did not position students as generators of definitions. Students were given opportunities to construct both structural definitions (e.g., describing properties that constitute an object) and procedural definitions (e.g., describing how to construct an object) (Eylon & Reif, 1984;Zaslavsky & Shir, 2005). Second, mathematical questions were highlighted as important, and starting early on, the teacher asked students to pose questions about particular mathematical objects (such as a square drawn on the board) and documented their questions on a list that was displayed in the classroom. ...
Article
We examined the codevelopment of mathematical concepts and the mathematical practice of defining within a sixth-grade class investigating space and geometry. Drawing upon existing literature, we present a framework for describing forms of participation in defining, what we term aspects of definitional practice. Analysis of classroom interactions during 16 episodes spanning earlier and later phases of instruc-tion illustrate how student participation in aspects of definitional practice influenced their emerging conceptions of the geometry of shape and form and how emerging conceptions of shape and form provided opportunities to develop and elaborate aspects of definitional practice. Several forms of teacher discourse appeared to support students' participation and students' increasing agency over time. These included: (a) requesting that members of the class participate in various aspects of practice, (b) asking questions that serve to expand the mathematical system, (c) modeling participa-tion in aspects of practice, (d) proposing examples that create contest (i.e., monsters), and (e) explicitly stating expectations of and purposes for participating in the practice.
... This ability to reveal the frameworks individuals use to organize their disciplinary knowledge is a significant advantage of card-sorting tasks compared with other assessment approaches, because the organization of one's knowledge, rather than the presence, absence, or accuracy of the content knowledge itself, is thought to be key to developing expertise (Ambrose et al., 2010). Furthermore, having a more expert-like organization of conceptual knowledge has been shown to be associated with increased problem-solving abilities (Eylon and Reif, 1984;Hardiman et al., 1989). ...
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While there have been concerted efforts to reform undergraduate biology toward teaching students to organize their conceptual knowledge like experts, there are few tools that attempt to measure this. We previously developed the Biology Card Sorting Task (BCST), designed to probe how individuals organize their conceptual biological knowledge. Previous results showed the BCST could differentiate between different populations, namely non?biology majors (NBM) and biology faculty (BF). In this study, we administered the BCST to three additional populations, using a cross-sectional design: entering biology majors (EBM), advanced biology majors (ABM), and biology graduate students (BGS). Intriguingly, ABM did not initially sort like experts any more frequently than EBM. However, once the deep-feature framework was revealed, ABM were able to sort like experts more readily than did EBM. These results are consistent with the conclusion that biology education enables advanced biology students to use an expert-like conceptual framework. However, these results are also consistent with a process of ?selection,? wherein students who persist in the major may have already had an expert-like conceptual framework to begin with. These results demonstrate the utility of the BCST in measuring differences between groups of students over the course of their undergraduate education.
Chapter
Timely feedback is crucial in the effective teaching of GCE A Level Biology. In Singapore, junior colleges adopt the lecture-tutorial system in curriculum delivery. However, pedagogical effectiveness during lectures is hindered by many challenges that include large lecture size, diverse learning abilities of students and difficulty in monitoring students’ learning. Hence, it is an uphill task to employ the best teaching practices that foster deep learning. We have administered post-lecture feedback for all Biology topics taught since 2007, and monitored the efficacy of this mode of student feedback on their understanding of biological concepts. Our findings, based on consolidated feedback from five student cohorts, have shown a positive correlation in the use of post-lecture feedback with students’ ability to grasp concepts, and provided evidence that students improved in their capability to make connections between related themes in the subject.
Chapter
Biology teachers hold a lot of power in their hands. This power is to orchestrate the learning environment so creatively that students are stimulated to want to know more. It may be a simple spark as a story or an interesting fact, but it is enough to light the fire of curiosity. Much research points to the fact that the direct teaching of biology content overshadows the process of discovering the wonders of natural science. New research also indicates that changes need to be made within the biology curriculum to make it more relevant and current as well as interdisciplinary. Biology teaching and learning needs to break loose out of its rigid structure and become more fluid and non-linear to become more appealing to our present generation of digital natives.
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Recent research in science education examines learning from four perspectives which we characterize as a concept-learning focus, a developmental focus, a differential focus, and a focus on problem solving. This paper illustrates how these perspectives, considered together offer new insights into the knowledge and reasoning processes of science students and provide a framework for identifying mechanisms governing how individuals change their knowledge and thinking processes. An integrated examination of the four research perspectives strongly suggests that in-depth coverage of several science topics will benefit students far more than fleeting coverage of numerous science topics.
Chapter
Exploratory learning with computer simulations is an approach that fits well within the current emphasis on viewing the learner as an active, constructive person. In previous studies we concluded that a valid performance of exploratory learning processes was a bottleneck and especially the process of hypothesis generation posed difficulties to learners. The major objective of the present study was to evaluate the effect of supporting hypothesis generation by offering structured overviews of predefined hypotheses. Subjects were 88 Mechanical Engineering students working in pairs, with a computer simulation program for control theory. Two experimental groups and one control group received an open-ended assignment for exploring a given modelled system. The major means of support that the experimental groups received was a structured overview of hypotheses. These overviews offered a list of, basically, the same set of eight predefined hypotheses from which subjects could choose. Two variations were designed: the controller structure followed types of controllers of increasing complexity and the concept structure organised the hypotheses according to fundamental domain concepts. The control group received the same assignment, but no support measures. Prior knowledge of all subjects was measured and at the end of the lab they were given a posttest that intended to measure ‘deep’ knowledge. Subjects worked on so-called ‘fill-in forms’ and their notes were used for analyzing their learning processes. Results showed that the Controller group scored higher on the posttest than the Concept group and subjects’ level of prior knowledge influenced the posttest scores. Analysis of statements on the fill-in forms showed that among others the Controller group designed better (more complete) experiments than the Concept group.
Article
This article explores the directions needed to facilitate widespread adoption of the findings of cognitive science (CS) into undergraduate instruction in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The emerging research tradition of STEM discipline-based education research (DBER) is introduced briefly, with a focus on physics education research (PER). Examples of cognitive science research that are beginning to affect classroom practice are introduced, as well as examples that have direct implications for improving STEM instructional practices, yet remain largely unknown in the STEM community. Two barriers slow the implementation of CS findings in undergraduate STEM instruction. The first is lack of communication between cognitive science and STEM DBER researchers. The second is that, even when strong curricula and instructional practices are developed, there are many structural obstacles that make it difficult for STEM instructors to implement new instructional strategies. We provide an overview of current efforts to overcome these structural obstacles, and suggest policy implications for the cognitive science and DBER research communities that could facilitate the development, evaluation, and adoption of research-based instructional strategies in STEM undergraduate education.
Article
In planning and teaching courses for engineering majors, physics instructors grapple with multiple instructional goals: extensive content coverage, quantitative problem solving, conceptual understanding, motivation, and more. The temptation is to treat these goals as mutually reinforcing or at least as not in conflict. We argue, however, that at least for novice instructors, these goals can be in tension. In our study, one instructor was experienced and emphasized traditional quantitative problem solving. A second instructor teaching another lecture section of the same course was a novice who chose to emphasize a goal suggested by physics education research and studies of practicing engineers, namely mathematical sense-making-translating and seeking coherence between mathematical formalism and physical reasoning. A common final exam, containing standard traditional problems and also opportunities for mathematical sense-making, enabled us to document the following trade-off: the novice instructor outperformed the experienced traditional instructor at fostering mathematical sense-making but underperformed at fostering traditional problem solving. In other words, the novice instructor's success at teaching mathematical sense-making came at a cost. A third instructor, expert in emphasizing mathematical sense-making, showed that it is possible to succeed at teaching mathematical sense-making without a significant trade-off in teaching traditional problem-solving. However, for instructors considering the adoption of physics/engineering education research-based instructional strategies, trade-offs must be acknowledged and tough choices must be made.
Article
Students’ problem-solving ability depends on their understanding of related scientific concepts. Therefore, the modeling and assessment of students’ understanding of specific scientific concepts is important to promote students’ problem-solving ability, as it can find students’ understanding difficulties and explore breakthrough strategies accordingly. Inspired by the theory of knowledge integration and combined with the situational characteristics of science education in China, this study established a conceptual framework about buoyant force, which was applied to model students’ different understandings of it. And based on the established framework, an assessment of buoyant force was designed and tested among 622 Chinese lower-secondary school students. Through the analysis of the test data and the interview outcomes, it was found that students’ understanding of buoyant force could be divided into three levels of knowledge integration including novice, intermediate, and expert. Furthermore, the results demonstrate that an emphasis on the nature of buoyant force can be an effective strategy to help students achieve a deeper conceptual understanding of buoyant force, leading to a more integrated knowledge structure. Keywords: assessment of knowledge integration, buoyant force, central idea, conceptual framework, scientific concept understanding
Article
We describe the impact of physics education research-based pedagogical techniques in flipped and active-engagement non-flipped courses on student performance on validated conceptual surveys. We compare student performance in courses that make significant use of evidence-based active engagement (EBAE) strategies with courses that primarily use lecture-based (LB) instruction. All courses had large enrollment and often had 100-200 students. The analysis of data for validated conceptual surveys presented here includes data from large numbers of students from two-semester sequences of introductory algebra-based and calculus-based introductory physics courses. The conceptual surveys used to assess student learning in the first and second semester courses were the Force Concept Inventory and the Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism, respectively. In the research discussed here, the performance of students in EBAE courses at a particular level is compared with LB courses in two situations: (i) the same instructor taught two courses, one of which was a flipped course involving EBAE methods and the other an LB course, while the homework, recitations, and final exams were kept the same; (ii) student performance in all of the EBAE courses taught by different instructors was averaged and compared with LB courses of the same type also averaged over different instructors. In all cases, we find that students in courses that make significant use of active-engagement strategies, on average, outperformed students in courses using primarily LB instruction of the same type on conceptual surveys even though there was no statistically significant difference on the pretest before instruction. We also discuss correlation between the performance on the validated conceptual surveys and the final exam, which typically placed a heavy weight on quantitative problem solving.
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Titles can alter the comprehension of a text by affecting the selection of information from a text and the organization of this information in memory. Text comprehension is assumed to involve an organizational process that results in the formation of a text base, an ordered list of semantic units-propositions. The text base can be used as a retrieval scheme to reconstruct the text. Procedures for assigning propositions as more relevant to some themes as compared to other themes are developed and applied to texts. Texts with biasing titles were used in an experiment to demonstrate that immediate free recall is biased toward the theme emphasized in the title. The comprehension process which is guided by the text's thematical information is described.
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EnglishWe describe a systematic study of skills for solving problems in basic physics, a domain of practical significance for instruction, but not of prohibitive complexity. Our studies show that an inexperienced student tends to solve a problem by assembling individual equations. By contrast, an expert solves a problem by a process of successive refinements, first describing the main problem features by seemingly vague words or pictures, and only later considering the problem in greater detail in more mathematical language. We have formulated explicit theoretical models with such features and have supported them by some detailed observations of individuals. In addition, experimental instruction incorporating such features seems to improve problem‐solving performance significantly. These investigations yield thus some basic insights into thinking processes effective for problem‐solving. Furthermore, they offer the prospect that these insights can be used to teach students improved problem‐solving skills and to modify common teaching practices which inhibit the development of such skills. Beschrieben wird eine systematische Untersuchung von Problemlösen im Einführungskurs Physik. Die Untersuchung zeigt, dass ein unerfahrener Student dazu neigt, ein Problem durch Verwendung von Einzelgleichungen zu lösen. Im Gegensatz dazu wird ein Experte ein Problem durch aufeinanderfolgende Spitzfindigkeiten lösen, indem er erst das Hauptproblem mit allgemeinen Worten oder Bildern und erst dann das Problem selbst in mathematischen Ausdrücken genauer beschreibt. Wir haben theoretische Modelle formuliert und sie dann mit einigen genaueren Einzelbeobacktungen unterstützt. Es scheint auch, dass der experimentelle Unterricht, der solche Betrachtungsweisen beinhaltet, das Problemlösen deutlich verbessert. Diese Forschungen liefern einige grundlegende Einsichten in die beim Problemlösen notwendigen Denkprozesse. Darüber hinaus lassen sie hoffen, dass diese Einsichten genutzt werden können, um den Studenten grössere Kompetenz im Problemlösen zu vermitteln und um die gängigen Lehrmethoden zu verändern, die die Entwicklung solcher Kompetenz verhindern. Dans cette étude, nous essayons d'analyser l'aptitude à résoudre des problèmes en physique élémentaire, un domaine d'importance pratique pour l'enseignement, mais sans être d'une complexité prohibitive. Nous essayons de montrer, qu'un étudiant inexpérimenté tend à résoudre un problème par assemblage d'équations isolées. Par contre, un expert résoud un problème en procédant de proche en proche; en premier lieu, il en décrit les principales caractéristiques à l'aide de mots ou d'images en apparence vagues. Et c'est plus tard, qu'il considère le problème en détail, dans un langage plus strictement mathématique. Nous avons formulé des modèles théoriques explicites avec de telles caractéristiques et les avons illustrées à l'aide de quelques observations individuelles détaillées. De plus, un enseignement expérimental comportant de telles caractéristiques, semble améliorer significativement la performance des problèmes à résoudre. Ces expérimentations donnent ainsi quelques informations importantes sur les processus de la pensée dans la résulution d'un problème. En outre, elles offrent la perspective d'utiliser ces informations dans le but d'enseigner aux étudiants, la façon d'améliorer l'aptitude à résoudre des problèmes et de modifier la pratique d'enseignement usuelle, qui inhibe le développment de telles aptitudes.
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In Exp I, 40 undergraduates either did or did not create a map-like representation while learning a passage. Learners who generated a map exhibited significantly greater retention than did control Ss. In Exp II, 120 undergraduates were either forced to study the map, instructed to study, or given no map prior to reading. Learners who were forced to process performed significantly better than other groups on retention measures. Ss not forced to study performed no better than the control group who received no map. Free-recall data showed that forced map study benefited learners with low vocabulary scores more than Ss with higher vocabulary scores. This was not true for multiple-choice or constructed response measures. (15 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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In Exp I, 56 college students with no computer experience read a 24-frame text on computer programing that was presented in logical or random order. For random organization, Ss given an advance organizer performed better on a posttest than controls, but the opposite pattern obtained for logical organization. In Exp II, 96 students read a 4-paragraph text concerning imaginary countries that was presented in name or attribute organization. Low-ability (determined by questionnaire data on academic background and test scores) Ss given an organizer prior to reading performed better on questions that required integrating across different paragraphs of the presented text, and Ss given the organizer after reading performed relatively better on questions concerning information they had read within the same paragraph. Apparently, advance organizers served as an assimilative context for unfamiliar organizations. (18 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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The demand that text processing imposes on learners' cognitive capacity was measured with a secondary-task technique; the meaning of the textual materials was held constant while several structural (surface) variables were manipulated. Exp I (36 undergraduates) showed that text versions with simplified vocabulary and syntax (but equivalent content) required less cognitive capacity to process than standard versions. Exp II (96 Ss) revealed that the reduction in use of cognitive capacity was due primarily to syntactic factors. Exp III (72 Ss) demonstrated that texts containing signals about idea importance and relations required less cognitive capacity to process than texts with approximately the same propositional content but no such signals. Measures of total inspection time and content recall were also secured. In general, findings indicate that aspects of the surface structure of text made demands on Ss' cognitive processing capacity. (44 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Describes 3 experiments in which a total of 124 undergraduates were taught the concept of a binomial probability using methods that emphasized (a) calculating with the formula, or (b) the meanings of the variables in the formula. Learning outcomes were tested using 4 kinds of items, including calculation for new problems and questions about general properties of the formula. Large interactions in transfer performance were obtained in 3 cases, indicating that the 2 methods produced structurally different learning outcomes. Results are interpreted in relation to a hypothesis that cognitive structures can vary in the connectedness that components have with each other (internal connectedness) and with other elements of the S's knowledge (external connectedness). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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One hundred and seventy-five children studied a short passage in one of four conditions—control, passage with title, passage with headings in the form of statements, and passage with headings in the form of questions. The results showed that the passages with headings were recalled significantly better than the control passage or the passage with a title, on both immediate and long-term recall (14 days later). In addition, low ability children profited best from the text with headings in the form of questions.
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Levels of processing were manipulated as a function of acquisition task and type of recognition test in three experiments. Experiment 1 showed that semantic acquisition was superior to rhyme acquisition given a standard recognition test, whereas rhyme acquisition was superior to semantic acquisition given a rhyming recognition test. The former finding supports, while the latter finding contradicts, the levels of processing claim that depth of processing leads to stronger memory traces. Experiment 2 replicated these findings using both immediate and delayed recognition tests. Experiment 3 indicated that these effects were not dependent upon the number of times a rhyme sound was presented during acquisition. Results are interpreted in terms of an alternate framework involving transfer appropriate processing.
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Determined what aspects of information from prose passages are available for recall after 1 presentation and what aspects are learned with additional presentations. 2 passages were divided into idea units which were placed in a logical, hierarchical structure for each passage. Scores were assigned to the idea units according to their position in the structure. 69 undergraduates were divided into 3 groups: 1 heard each passage once, a 2nd heard each passage twice, and a 3rd group heard each 3 times. Ss were then asked to write down everything they could recall about the passages. Effects of the logical structure were seen in the kinds of idea units that were remembered, the stability of these units in consecutive recalls, and the tendency for clustering of idea units on this basis. In addition, serial position, importance of idea units, and order of recall were examined with the recall data. (20 ref.)
Educarional psychology: A cognitive view Downloaded by [York University Libraries] at 16:12 04 Hierarchical retrieval schemes in recall of categorized word lists
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Ausubei, D. P. (1968). Educarional psychology: A cognitive view. New York: Holt, --Rinehan, & Winston. Downloaded by [York University Libraries] at 16:12 04 January 2015 KNOWLEDGE ORGANIZATION AND TASK PERFORMANCE 43 Bower, G. H., Clark, M. C., Lesgold, A. M., & Winzenz, D. (1969). Hierarchical retrieval schemes in recall of categorized word lists. Journal of Verbal Learnrng and Verbal Behavror, 8. 323-343.
On comprehending stories Cognitive Processes in comprehension: Carnegie-Mellon symposium
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Kintsch, W. (1978). On comprehending stories. In M. A. Just & P. A. Carpenter (Eds.), Cognitive Processes in comprehension: Carnegie-Mellon symposium. Halstead Press.
Recall of propositions as a function of their position in the hierarchical structure The representation of meaning in memory
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Kintsch, W., & Keenan, J. M. (1974). Recall of propositions as a function of their position in the hierarchical structure. In W, Kintsch (Ed.), The representation of meaning in memory. @p. 137-140) Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.