Formal modelling in an introductory college physics course

Woolridge, David K. (2000) Formal modelling in an introductory college physics course. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

Many science education researchers suggest that students taking introductory physics courses should emulate the behaviour of professional scientists by learning to construct (and use) formal models. Largely this research has been done at the high school level. I believe that this approach must also be tested at the college level for two reasons. First, many college students may never have done a physics course before. Second, those who have probably did not learn via modeling but by a less sophisticated method. The result is that neither student is distinguishable on a conceptual test about the nature of the physical world. The main goal of my research is to determine the feasibility of the high school modeling method proposed by Hestenes and Wells when the approach is applied to a technical college's introductory mechanics course. During the fall and winter of 1997 and 1998 I trained a young physics instructor in this method. During that time I monitored his efforts with fresh and repeating students in the same course. In the fall of 1998 I repeated the study with fresh students of my own. The conceptual gains of both groups were cross-referenced and then checked with a non modeling control. My results showed that modelling did significantly improve conceptual understanding of the Newtonian world. However, the prescribed method is not practical given the time and content constraints of the typical college level course.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1160
Item ID: 1160
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 106-108
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 2000
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Physics--Computer simulation--Study and teaching (Higher); Physics--Computer-assisted instruction

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