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

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Sessions and Events w/Abstracts

Date: Monday, August 01


Total Number of Records Found: 13


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PER: Investigating Classroom Strategies I
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Monday, Aug.01
  Time: 8:00AM - 10:00AM
  Presider: Tom Carter,
  Co-Presiders(s): None
  Equipment: N/A
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Understanding the Variable Effect of Course Innovations on Student Learning
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Monday, Aug.01
  Time: 8:00AM - 8:10AM
  Author: Heidi Iverson, University of Colorado Boulder
  Co-Author(s): None
  Abstract: Over the last several decades, research has challenged the efficacy of the traditional lecture-based instructional model of undergraduate physics education. As a result, a large number of reform-oriented instructional innovations have been developed, enacted, and studied in undergraduate physics courses. While previous work has shown that the impact of course innovations on student learning has been overwhelmingly positive, it has also been highly variable. The purpose of this analysis is to investigate this variability. For this analysis 170 published studies on undergraduate physics course innovations were coded with respect to the characteristics of the innovations as well as the methodological characteristics of the study designs. The findings of this analysis have indicated that nearly half of the variability can be accounted for by study design characteristics rather than by characteristics of the innovations used. However, a subsequent analysis has highlighted some of the critical characteristics of more effective innovations.
  Footnotes: None
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Teaching Creativity and Innovation to Physicists Using Tablet PCs
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Monday, Aug.01
  Time: 8:10AM - 8:20AM
  Author: Patrick B. Kohl, Colorado School of Mines
  Co-Author(s): Vincent H. Kuo, Frank Kowalski, Susan Kowalksi
  Abstract: As the rest of the world catches up to the U.S. in industrial output and technological sophistication, our continued economic prosperity will depend on strengthening our historical success in generating new ideas. While there are limited efforts to foster creativity and innovation through formal and informal instruction in the business world, few efforts exist in science or engineering education. To address this, the Colorado School of Mines has recently created a dedicated Tablet PC classroom where we hold an elective physics course for the purpose of improving creativity in our students. In this talk, we report on the structure of the course and the technologies used. The latter include pedagogical implementations of InkSurvey, a free web-based software package that enables detailed, real-time interactions with the instructor. We assess student progress via the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, and discuss early work towards developing a physics-specific instrument for measuring creativity.
  Footnotes: None
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Clickers 2.0: Managing Classroom Interactions
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Monday, Aug.01
  Time: 8:20AM - 8:30AM
  Author: Brian Lukoff, Harvard University
  Co-Author(s): Eric Mazur
  Abstract: Clickers are widely used for formative assessment in physics classrooms, but current clicker systems have numerous limitations. In particular, most clicker systems have limited question formats beyond multiple-choice, and provide only limited ways for instructors to use data to improve instruction. We will introduce a new web-based system we have developed that allows students to use laptops and smartphones to answer many different kinds of questions (e.g., indicating the direction of a vector, or entering an algebraic expression) and allows instructors to use the data in real time to automatically group students for peer instruction based on their responses and their reported geographical locations in the classroom. Based on an initial deployment of this system in an introductory electricity and magnetism course, we will show some examples of what can be learned about student understanding from non-multiple-choice items and what can be learned about peer instruction from automatic grouping.
  Footnotes: None
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Assessing Course-Integrated Problem Comparisons Activities Using Similarity Ratings Surveys
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Monday, Aug.01
  Time: 8:30AM - 8:40AM
  Author: Frances A. Mateycik, Penn State Altoona
  Co-Author(s): Kendra E. Sheaffer
  Abstract: Students in an algebra-based physics course were required to complete a compare and contrast activity each week. The treatment was used to examine whether direct problem comparisons are useful for facilitating student awareness of physical, deep-structure problem characteristics. Students were expected to write detailed arguments as to how two problems of their own selection from the weekly homework assignment were similar and different from one another. Handwritten feedback was offered after each assignment, and students were deducted points if their responses were considered too vague. Pre- and post-treatment similarity ratings surveys were used to evaluate the emphasis students placed on deep-structure. The survey required students to rate the similarities between eight pairs of problems of varying similarity, and write a description that supported their numerical rating. This talk will summarize student survey responses before and after treatment, and compare any trends with previous semesters where no immediate feedback was offered.
  Footnotes: None
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Adapting PER Strategies for Middle School Science Classes
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Monday, Aug.01
  Time: 8:40AM - 8:50AM
  Author: David E. Meltzer, Arizona State University
  Co-Author(s): None
  Abstract: There is great potential in adapting, for the middle-school classroom, instructional strategies and curricular materials developed and validated for use with college students. Substantial modifications in content, format, and instructional design are needed and must conform to a variety of constraints such as time availability for instruction and grading, equipment and administrative resources, etc. I will describe my experiences in adapting PER-based materials and methods for weekly science classes taught to grades 5, 6, 7, and 8 during the 2010-2011 academic year. The context was a one-hour class taught each week to five different classes, all in the setting of a university instructional laboratory.
  Footnotes: Supported by a grant from Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
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Examining Correlations Between Lecture Conceptual Question Responses and Course Performance
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Monday, Aug.01
  Time: 8:50AM - 9:00AM
  Author: Jeffrey T. Morgan, University of Northern Iowa
  Co-Author(s): Cynthia Wakefield
  Abstract: We have implemented peer instruction in an introductory level conceptual physics course for non-science majors, based on the success that others report with this method.(1) We expected to see that learning from peer conversation, as evidenced by answering conceptual questions correctly following discussion, would correlate with course grade, but did not observe any link. We did, however, note moderate correlation between answering a conceptual question correctly prior to peer conversation and course grade, indicating that while peer conversation improves the interactivity of a lecture course, interaction may be more important than arriving at the correct answer to student success.
  Footnotes: 1. Crouch, C. H. and E. Mazur, "Peer Instruction: Ten years of experience and results." American Journal of Physics 69 (9), 970-977.
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Scaffolding Students' Development of Mental Models for Pulleys Systems
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Monday, Aug.01
  Time: 9:00AM - 9:10AM
  Author: Amy Rouinfar, Kansas State University
  Co-Author(s): Adrian M. Madsen, Tram Do Ngoc Hoang, N. Sanjay Rebello, Sadhana Puntambekar
  Abstract: Research has shown that students have several misconceptions about pulleys. To construct a mental model of how pulley systems work, students must elicit and confront these misconceptions. We report on a study with students in a conceptual physics laboratory investigating pulley systems using physical or virtual manipulatives. Written materials guided students through a sequence of activities designed to scaffold their model construction process. The activity sequences facilitated students' sense making by requiring them to make predictions about different pulley systems and testing these predictions by building and comparing different systems. At the end of each of the two weeks of the activity, students were given the task of designing the best pulley system for lifting a piano. We investigate the ways in which students use the manipulatives while navigating scaffolding activities and how the students' mental model development of pulley systems compares between the physical and virtual treatments.
  Footnotes: This work is supported in part by U.S. Dept. of Education IES grant award R305A080507.
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Peer Instruction Self-Efficacy
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Monday, Aug.01
  Time: 9:10AM - 9:20AM
  Author: Julie A. Schell, Harvard University
  Co-Author(s): Brian Lukoff, Jason Dowd, Laura Tucker, Eric Mazur
  Abstract: Physics education research suggests that students' beliefs in their ability to complete physics tasks successfully--that is, their physics self-efficacy--may play an important role in explaining their learning and success in undergraduate physics classrooms (Fencl & Scheel, 2005; Kost, Pollock, Finkelstein 2005). Following this line of research, we introduce a new self-efficacy construct, Peer Instruction Self-Efficacy (PISE), which describes students' beliefs in their abilities to engage in specific Peer Instruction activities. For example, PISE includes physics students' beliefs that they can successfully convince their neighbors of the validity of their responses to conceptually based questions during Peer Instruction. In this talk, we will introduce our instrument for measuring PISE, as well as data on how students' PISE changes over the course of one semester of an introductory undergraduate electricity and magnetism course at one major research university. We will also report initial findings about the relationship between students' PISE and their eventual learning outcomes in the course.
  Footnotes: H. Fencl & K. Scheel, J. Col. Sci. Teach. 35, 20 (2005). L. E. Kost, S. J. Pollock, N.D. Finkelstein. Physics Education Research Conference, (2009).
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Is this Good Teaching? Assessment Challenges for Both Faculty and Institutions
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Monday, Aug.01
  Time: 9:20AM - 9:30AM
  Author: Chandra A. Turpen, Western Michigan University
  Co-Author(s): Charles Henderson, Melissa Dancy
  Abstract: As part of a larger research study, we focus on the investigation of barriers to instructional change. One significant barrier that has emerged is that neither faculty nor their institutions know how to evaluate student learning (or teaching effectiveness) in introductory physics courses. In this talk, we will present results from telephone interviews with 70 physics faculty related to how faculty and their institutions evaluate teaching effectiveness. We will focus on the following research questions: 1) What information is gathered about instructors? teaching and students? learning? 2) How is this information used? 3) How are different sources of information perceived or valued by faculty? Helping faculty (and possibly institutions) make judgments about whether their instruction is working may be an integral part of supporting efforts to improve undergraduate physics instruction.
  Footnotes: Supported, in part, by NSF Award No. 0715698
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Teaching Assistant Impact on Student Understanding of Electrostatic Concepts
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Monday, Aug.01
  Time: 9:30AM - 9:40AM
  Author: Keith West, Texas Tech University
  Co-Author(s): Beth Thacker
  Abstract: Teaching assistants were given a ranking problem in electrostatics to teach during recitation sections. The same problem was given on an in-class exam two weeks later. Student performance on the exam question is examined as a function of TA teaching style, which is ranked using the RTOP assessment.
  Footnotes: This project is supported by the NIH grant 5RC1GM090897-02. Sponsored by Beth Thacker.
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Comparison of an Inquiry-based Algebra-based Course to Traditional Teaching
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Monday, Aug.01
  Time: 9:40AM - 9:50AM
  Author: Mahmoud Yaqoub, Texas Tech University
  Co-Author(s): Beth Thacker, Keith West, Mark Ellermann, Jake Schwierking
  Abstract: We present data comparing an inquiry-based, algebra-based introductory physics course to courses taught traditionally and by interactive engagement. The inquiry-based course was taught in a hands-on, laboratory-based classroom. It was taught without a text, using materials developed explicitly for the algebra-based population, supported by two NSF grants.(1) We present data both from conceptual inventories and written pre- and post-tests administered to all of the classes.
  Footnotes: (1)arXiv:physics/0702247v1 supported by CCLI #9981031 and CCLI-EMD #0088780. This project is supported by the NIH grant 5RC1GM090897-02. Sponsored by Beth Thacker.
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High-School Teachers' Implementation of 'Troubleshooting-Tasks' Presented in an In-Service Program
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Monday, Aug.01
  Time: 9:50AM - 10:00AM
  Author: Edit Yerushalmi, Weizmann Institute of Science
  Co-Author(s): Sawsan Ailabouni, Rafi Safadi
  Abstract: "Troubleshooting Tasks" require students to detect an error in a statement describing a situation, explain it, and correct it. Such tasks can serve as a context for refining interpretations of scientific concepts if designed appropriately. In particular, statements should include mistaken reasoning reflecting alternative conceptions known from the research literature, and feedback should highlight how a mistaken interpretation differs from the scientific one. "Troubleshooting Tasks" were presented in an in-service program for high school teachers from the Arab sector in Israel. We report how these tasks were implemented in the classrooms. Data sources consist of statements and sample solutions composed by the teachers, teachers' assessment of students' performance, and their reflections regarding their experience. In particular, we answer: To what extent did actual implementation confirm with the aforementioned guidelines? What challenges did teachers face when implementing these tasks? The results can inform the design of in-service programs presenting teachers with similar tasks.
  Footnotes: Edit Yerushalmi
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