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2011 AAPT Summer Meeting
July 30-August 3, 2011
Omaha, Nebraska

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PST2C14:

Enhancing Student Interest through Increased Autonomy in the Physics Classroom
  Location: KFC Courts
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.2
  Time: 6:00 PM -6:45 PM
  Author: Nicholas Hall, University of California, Davis
(530) 304-2822, nrhall@ucdavis.edu
  Co-Author(s): David Webb
  Abstract: We perform an experiment involving 300 students in an active-learning introductory physics course for biological science undergraduates at the University of California, Davis. The students are divided into 10 discussion/labs (DLs) that meet for 140 minutes twice a week and are taught by five teaching assistants (TAs). Five DLs are "autonomy-supportive" in that during the second half of each class the students choose how to apply, expound on, or clarify what they have learned. We compare this experimental group to a control group of five "traditional" active-engagement DLs. Each TA teaches one autonomy-supportive and one traditional DL. We hypothesize that increased autonomy-support will help improve attitudes, increase interest, and enhance performance. We measure these effects with grades and specially designed surveys. This study could have important implications for introductory physics class design by testing whether the positive effects of increased student autonomy in class outweigh the benefits of the alternatives.
  Footnotes: None
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