Saturday, May 14, 2011
PHYS. REV. ST PHYS. EDUC. RES. 7, 010105 (2011)
In this paper we present the results of two experiments designed to understand how physics students’ learning of the concept of refraction is influenced by the cognitive phenomenon of ‘‘specificity.’’ In both experiments participants learned why light bends as it travels from one optical medium to another with an analogy made to a car driving from paved road into mud and vice versa. They then learned how to qualitatively draw the direction of refracted light rays with an example of a glass prism. One group learned with a rectangular prism example while a second group learned with a triangular prism example. In a transfer test, the participants revealed how, even when they seemed able to implement the refraction concept, their responses were biased by the example they had seen. Participants frequently violated the refraction principle they had just learned (reversing the bend direction) in order to make sure their response matched the surface features of their learning example. This tended to happen when their test question looked superficially similar to their learning example. We discuss the implications of these results for physics instruction.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
You have been teaching physics for a few years now and, in that time, you have interacted with no other physics teachers ... are you feeling lonely? Does this sound like your situation? This is a fairly typical experience for high school physics teachers. Many of us are the only physics teacher in our high school and have limited opportunities to have meaningful discussions with peers.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Web-based multimedia learning modules were added as prelectures to our reformed introductory electricity and magnetism course. Each module consisted of approximately 20 min of narrated animation, and students were given credit for completing them before lecture. To compensate for this additional time, lectures were reduced from 75 to 50 min. In addition to a modest increase in exam performance, the changes dramatically improved student attitudes toward the course in general and lectures in particular.