aapt_program_final_sm13 - page 107

July 13–17, 2013
Wednesday morning
PST2C18: 9:15-10 a.m. PER User’s Guide Plus: PER-based
Assessment Guide and Results Database
Poster – Adrian M. Madsen, American Association of Physics Teachers, 4210
Riley Drive, Longmont, CO 80503;
Sarah B. McKagan, American Association of Physics Teachers
Eleanor C. Sayre, Kansas State University
As part of the PER User’s Guide (
), we are develop-
ing an online database of PER-based assessment instrument scores and
an accompanying data explorer. Here physics instructors can upload their
students’ assessment data and compare it to the larger data set. The system
includes “ne-click analysis”, enabling users to visualize their data, make
comparisons and view statistics such as gain scores, effect sizes, and statis-
tical significance. Users can compare their data in a variety of ways, such as
to data from peer institutions, national data, or before and after a change
in teaching method. We plan to conduct a large-scale comparison of as-
sessment data from traditional and interactive-engagement classes as the
database is populated. Additionally, we are developing guides to these PER-
based assessments, including information about their background, research
validation, and guidelines for administration. We solicit your feedback on
our system and your assessment data to include in our database.
PST2C20: 9:15-10 a.m. Examining and Connecting Physics
Teaching Assistants’ Beliefs and Practices
Poster – Benjamin T. Spike, University of Colorado, Boulder, Department of
Physics, UCB 390, Boulder, CO 80309-0390;
Noah D. Finkelstein, University of Colorado, Boulder
As research-based course transformations become more widespread,
increasing attention is being paid to physics Teaching Assistants (TAs) for
their critical role in supporting transformed instructional environments,
as well as for their own development as future faculty and scientists. We
examine how physics TAs conceptualize physics teaching through both
how they talk about and how they enact their roles in the classroom. In a
previous work,
we reported on our efforts to develop a framework to char-
acterize TAs’ stated pedagogical beliefs and link them to their instructional
practices. Here we present this framework in a validated and refined form,
and apply it to interview and classroom video data. We also discuss how
this framework may be used to examine variation in beliefs and practices,
track the development of beliefs over time, and inform TA preparation.
1. B.T. Spike and N.D. Finkelstein,
PST2C21: 8:30-9:15 a.m. Core Courses: A Missed Learning
Poster – Alexandru Maries, University of Pittsburgh, 5813 Bartlett St., Pitts-
burgh, PA 15217;
Chandralekha Singh, University of Pittsburgh
An important goal of graduate physics core courses is to help students
develop expertise in problem solving and improve their reasoning and
meta-cognitive skills. We explore the conceptual difficulties of phys-
ics graduate students by administering conceptual problems on topics
covered in undergraduate physics courses before and after instruction in
related first year core graduate courses. Here, we focus on physics graduate
students’ difficulties manifested by their performance on two qualitative
problems involving diagrammatic representation of vector fields. Some
graduate students had great difficulty in recognizing whether the diagrams
of the vector fields had divergence and/or curl but they had no difficulty
computing the divergence and curl of the vector fields mathematically. We
also conducted individual discussions with various faculty members who
regularly teach first year graduate physics core courses about the goals of
these courses and the performance of graduate students on the conceptual
problems after related instruction in core courses.
*This work is supported by the National Science Foundation.
PST2C22: 9:15-10 a.m. Developing Tutorials for Advanced
Physics Students: Process and Lessons Learned
Poster – Charles Baily, University of Colorado, Department of Physics, Boul-
der, CO 80309-0390;
Steven J. Pollock, University of Colorado
When education researchers introduce new curricular materials to the
physics community, we typically learn more about the efficacy of the end
products than the actual process by which the materials came into being.
We present details on our development of in-class tutorials for students in
an advanced electrodynamics course at CU Boulder, in hopes of provid-
ing useful information for faculty engaged in similar projects. We discuss
sources of inspiration for in-class activities, describe a validation process
involving student focus groups, and consider some lessons learned follow-
ing their initial classroom implementation.
PST2C23: 8:30-9:15 a.m. Developing and Evaluating Quantum
Mechanics Formalism and Postulates Survey*
Poster – Emily Marshman,** University of Pittsburgh, 3941 Ohara St., Pitts-
burgh, PA 15260;
Chandralekha Singh, University of Pittsburgh
Development of multiple-choice tests related to a particular physics topic
is important for designing research-based learning tools to reduce the
difficulties related to the topic. We explore the difficulties that the advanced
undergraduate and graduate students have with quantum mechanics
formalism and postulates. We developed a research-based multiple-choice
survey that targets these issues to obtain information about the common
difficulties and administered it to undergraduate and graduate students.
We find that the advanced undergraduate and graduate students have many
common difficulties with these topics. The survey can be administered to
assess the effectiveness of various instructional strategies.
*Supported by the National Science Foundation
**Sponsored by Chandralekha Singh
PST2C24: 9:15-10 a.m. Large-scale Assessment for Upper-
Division Electricity and Magnetism
Poster – Bethany R. Wilcox, University of Colorado, Boulder, 2510 Taft Drive,
Unit 213, Boulder, CO 80302;
Steven Pollock, Marcos Caballero, University of Colorado, Boulder
The Colorado Upper-division Electrostatics (CUE) diagnostic was
designed as an open-ended assessment to capture elements of student
reasoning in upper-division electrostatics. The diagnostic has been given
for many semesters at multiple universities resulting in an extensive
database of CUE responses. To increase the scalability of the assessment,
we used this database along with research on students’ difficulties to create
a multiple-choice version. The new version explores the viability of a novel
test format where students select multiple responses and can receive partial
credit based on the accuracy and consistency of their selections. This
format was selected with the goal of preserving insights afforded by the
open-ended format while exploiting the logistical advantages of a multiple-
choice assessment. Here, we present examples of the questions and scoring
of the multiple-choice CUE as well as initial analysis of item difficulty,
discrimination, and overall consistency with the open-ended version.
PST2C25: 8:30-9:15 a.m. Multiple Perspectives on Student
Syntheses of Concepts in Thermal Physics*
Poster – Trevor I. Smith, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA 17013; smithtre@
John R. Thompson, Donald B. Mountcastle, University of Maine
We have previously reported examples of student failures to conceptually
combine Boltzmann factors with the density of states appropriately in ther-
mal physics. Our earlier analyses focused on specific student difficulties
observed directly from the data; e.g., students successfully describe ideas
related to either the Boltzmann factor or the density of states, but do not
often articulate the simultaneous effects of both, as required by the physical
context. We now extend our findings by analyzing student data through
multiple theoretical lenses, such as a resources perspective and the frame-
work of conceptual blending, among others. Employing these perspectives
illuminates valuable features of the data previously unavailable to us.
*Portions of this work supported by NSF Grant DUE-0817282.
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