Enhancing and Evaluating Students’ Learning of Motion Concepts
Microcomputer-based laboratory (MBL) tools have been developed as an aid to all students, including the underprepared and underserved, in learning physical concepts. To guide this development, extensive work has been done to find useful measures of students’ conceptual understanding that can be used in widely varying contexts. This article describes student learning of motion concepts by high school and college students in both traditional and MBL contexts. Students use MBL tools to collect physical data that are graphed in real time and then can be manipulated and analyzed. The MBL tools have made possible discovery-based laboratory curricula that embody results from educational research, allowing students to take an active role in their learning and encouraging them to construct physical knowledge from observation of the physical world. The curricula take advantage of the fact that MBL tools present data in an immediately understandable graphical form. They also encourage collaborative learning. The effectiveness of these methods compared to traditional high school and university methods for helping students learn basic motion concepts has been evaluated by pre- and post-testing and by observation. There is strong evidence for significantly improved learning and retention by students who used the MBL materials, compared to those taught in a traditional manner.
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- 1.This work was suppoi in part by the Fund for Improvement of Post-secondary Education (FIPSE) of the U.S. Department of Education under the “Tools for Scientific Thinking” project and “Interactive Physics” at Tufts University, the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Education, the Board of Regents of Massachusetts, and Apple Computer, Inc.Google Scholar
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