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

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Physical and Virtual Manipulatives' Effect on Students' Models of Pulleys
  Location: KFC Courts
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.2
  Time: 5:15 PM -6:00 PM
  Author: Adrian Madsen, Kansas State University
  Co-Author(s): Amy Rouinfar , Tram Do Ngoc Hoang , N. Sanjay Rebello
  Abstract: Several studies have investigated differences in students' learning with physical and virtual manipulatives. However, not as many studies have looked into the process by which any differences in learning occur. In this study, we look closely at the process of conceptual change as students interact with either physical or virtual pulley systems. Students in five conceptual physics laboratory classes investigated various pulleys systems over two consecutive laboratory classes, each nearly two hours long. Half of the students in each class learned with a computer simulation while the other half used actual pulleys, strings, and weights. All students were given identical instructions that prompted them to construct their own understanding of pulley systems by comparing and testing different systems. We report on how students' ideas about pulleys changed as they progressed through the activities and compare learning with physical and virtual manipulatives.
  Footnotes: This work is supported in part by U.S. Dept. of Education IES grant award R305A080507
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