Physics Education Seminar

semester, 2016


Friday, January 22nd 2016
3:35 pm:
There will be no seminar this week.

Friday, January 29th 2016
3:35 pm:
Speaker: Peter Bohacek , Matt Vonk, University of Wisconsin, River Falls
Subject: Using Direct Measurement Video to Teach Model Making and Model Breaking

We conducted a study to determine whether Direct Measurement Video can be used effectively teach model making, and model breaking. Model making means that students are able to discern a mathematical relationship between measured quantities using data they measure from a physical system. Model breaking means that students are able to determine whether a specific event can be explained using a known model. We performed a study using 180 intro level students to determine how well Direct Measurement Video based instruction can teach these skills. We'll describe the study, and share the preliminary results.


Friday, February 5th 2016
3:35 pm:
Speaker: Xian Wu, Kansas State University
Subject: Investigating the Effect of Hint Modalities on Conceptual Physics Tasks

Previous research has shown that visual hints can improve learners’ performance on conceptual physics tasks. In this study, we investigate the effect of multimedia hints that include visual, text, audio modalities as well as all possible combinations thereof. The participants (N = 162) enrolled in conceptual physics classes were recruited for this study. Each of them participated in an individual 50-minute interview, which contained four task sets. Each set contained one initial task, six training tasks, one near transfer task, and one far transfer task. We used a 2 (visual hint/no visual hint) × 2 (text hint/no text hint) × 2 (audio hint/no audio hint) between subject quasi-experimental design. Subjects were randomly assigned into one of the eight conditions and would be provided hints for training tasks, corresponding to the assigned condition. Six pairs of competing hypotheses were generated according to Mayer’s cognitive theory of multimedia learning. Overall, our results showed that task solving performance on the training tasks was affected by hint modality. Unlike what we predicted based on multimedia learning theory, we found that the audio hint condition performed no better than text hint condition. The most effective hint modality was a combination of the visual and text hints. Our study has implications for student cognition in computer-assisted instruction.


Friday, February 12th 2016
3:35 pm:
Speaker: Binod Nainabasti, Florida International University, Leon
Subject: Role of students’ participation in learning physics in an active learning environment

Students’ interactions can be an influential component of students’ success in an interactive learning environment. From a participation perspective, learning is viewed in terms of how students transform their participation. However, many of the seminal papers discussing the participationist framework are vague on specific details about what student participation really looks like on a more fine-grained scale. As part of a larger project to understand the role of student participation in learning, we have gathered data that allowed us to quantify students’ participation in three broad areas of two student-centered introductory calculus-based physics classes structured around the Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE) philosophy: in-class learning activities, class review sessions that happened at the beginning of every class, and the informal learning community that formed outside of class time. Using video data, classroom observations, and students’ self-reported social network data, we quantified students’ participation in these three aspects of the class throughout two semesters. We investigated the relationship between behaviors of students’ engagement in these aspects of an active learning environment and (a) their conceptual understanding (measured by FCI gain) and, (b) academic success in the courses as measured by exam scores and scores on out-of-class assignments. We also considered the following research questions: (1) does prior students’ physics knowledge of conceptual understanding bias their participation in an interactive learning environment, (2) does the overall participation pattern change over time in an Interactive Learning Environment, (3) is the benefit of participation in an interactive learning environment extended equally to both female and male students, and (4) does participation in an interactive learning environment increase the problem solving ability through teamwork? Our results revealed that different aspects of the class play distinct roles in students’ learning and pattern of students’ participation does not change significantly over time.


Friday, February 19th 2016
3:35 pm:
Speaker: Bin Xiao, North Carolina State University
Subject: A Problem Not in Any Textbook and All the Problems in One Textbook

Physics education researchers have introduced many novel types of problems and compared them to the end-of-chapter textbook problems. As an example, a study using a specially designed problem will first be presented. When expert problem solvers were asked to solve a very complicated circuit problem in think-aloud approach and were also required to rate their self-confidence on solving the problem during their solving process, how different would their performance be comparing to solving a typical textbook problem?

On the other hand, if we focus on the textbook problems, did they change after being studied all these years? In the second study, all the problems of the Electricity and Magnetism chapters of an introductory level textbook have been solved and coded basing on the equations needed and some other problem features. The results show some characteristics of the general textbook problems and their changes in the past three decades.


Friday, February 26th 2016
3:35 pm:
Speaker: Emily Smith from Oregon State University
Subject: Why are complex numbers and functions hard in physics?

Complex numbers and functions are used in several fields of physics including electricity and magnetism, classical mechanics, and quantum mechanics. However, as my initial research showed, formal instruction on complex algebra in the undergraduate curriculum at Oregon State University tended to repeat the same simple introduction multiple times, rather than providing a more extended treatment. We have developed and implemented assessments and interviews to gauge junior physics majors' developing fluency with complex algebra in a longitudinal study. I have identified tasks which are new to most students and have further delineated skills according to those which are easy to learn and retain, those which are fundamentally easy but cause persistent difficulties, and those which are actually difficult. Results from interviews, pretests, quizzes, and exam problems have suggested changes to in-class instruction, homework problems, and other resources in both mathematics and physics contexts. I will discuss how studies of this nature might inform changes to the curriculum and the development of computer problem solving coaches.


Friday, March 4th 2016
3:35 pm:
Speaker: Laura McCullough, UW-Stout
Subject: The Current Status of Women in Physics
To be announced.

Women have made significant gains in representation in physics, and yet we have a long way to go. What are the factors that affect the recruitment and retention in physics? This talk will share the most current research on the barriers that women in physics face.


Friday, March 11th 2016
3:35 pm:
There will be no seminar this week.

Friday, March 18th 2016
3:35 pm:
There will be no seminar this week, spring break.

Friday, March 25th 2016
3:35 pm:
Speaker: Miranda Pihlaja
Subject: Understanding Students’ Experience using a Citizen Science Project: Initial Results

Using science practices in science education has been the norm
for over three decades. Science education has turned from fact-learning to
activity-based learning. While students act or think like scientists, they
are missing a key part of science- the unknown. Using a citizen science
project as part of a science curriculum may be useful in giving students a
real scientist experience by having them participate in real science. This
talk outlines the methodology for a two-part study of students’ responses
to participating in a citizen science project as part of a class
assignment. I will also discuss initial results and implications


Friday, April 1st 2016
3:35 pm:
Speaker:  Bijaya Aryal UMN-Rochester
Subject: "Exploring Students’ Views about an Internet-based Computer Coaching System for Physics Problem Solving"

We have implemented an Internet-based Computer Coaching System for problem solving at University of Minnesota Rochester for last several semesters. Some of the Coaches are introduced in classroom as part of group activity and the other Coaches are made optional for them to use outside classroom as a supplement in problem solving support. Recently, we interviewed students to assess students’ degree of favorability about the Coaches and usefulness and effectiveness of the Coaches. In this presentation I will describe interview results focusing on the areas of strengths and areas of weakness of the Coaches as perceived by the students. I will also discuss attributions of students’ quantitative and computer technology skills on their opinions about the Coaches and their usage pattern.


Friday, April 8th 2016
3:35 pm:
There will be no seminar this week.

Friday, April 15th 2016
3:35 pm:
Speaker: Brita Nellermoe, University of St. Thomas
Subject: Teaching Physics and Self-Efficacy to Pre-Service Teachers; The Evolution of Physics 101 at UST

Over the last 4 years the Physics 101 (Physics for Elementary Teachers) course at the University of St. Thomas has undergone a major shift in dynamic, structure and course goals. Here we will discuss those changes and the integration of Writing Across the Curriculum - Writing to Learn and Unit Projects to enhance student learning and self efficacy. Gains in physics knowledge and self-efficacy will be discussed as well as areas of improvement and future plans.


Friday, April 22nd 2016
3:35 pm:
Speaker: Jie Yang, University of Minnesota
Subject: Progress update on C3PO Version 2.0

C3PO Version 2.0: customizable computer coaches for physics online is designed to coach students from meta cognitive level, which means coach students to think about thinking.


Friday, April 29th 2016
3:35 pm:
To be announced.

Friday, May 6th 2016
3:35 pm:
To be announced.

Friday, September 9th 2016
3:35 pm:
To be announced.

Friday, September 16th 2016
3:35 pm:
To be announced.

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