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Improving instruction in mechanics through identification and elicitation of pivotal cases in student reasoning Documents

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Improving instruction in mechanics through identification and elicitation of pivotal cases in student reasoning 

written by Hunter G. Close

This dissertation reports efforts to develop instructional materials on linear momentum, angular momentum, and forces on rigid bodies in standard introductory physics course. Many common errors in understanding of physics concepts are described. Some of these have been previously reported. Other cases represent new instances of common patterns of student reasoning, notably the conflation of related concepts. In cases where persistent student errors were already well known, tutorial instructional materials existed at the start of this project. These materials had been developed with specific student difficulties in mind, but in some cases, were less effective than was hoped. Through further exploration into student thinking by analysis of responses to written and online questions, individual student interviews, and classroom interactions, we improved our understanding of students' conceptual errors. We also identified several specific cases on which students appeared to hinge naturally their understanding of a concept or principle. For some students in some situations, invocation of one of these cases as support for a principle appears to be relatively spontaneous; however, in most cases, students may think more productively when guided to consider the case and assign it a pivotal role. Thus, in the final design, the instructional strategies of the tutorials are intended to promote naturally productive paths of student thinking. In this dissertation, we report on the observations and reflections that drove the instructional development and demonstrate the increased effectiveness of the instruction.

Published August 12, 2005
Last Modified August 7, 2012

This file is included in the full-text index.

Supplemental Documents (4)

Appendix A: Tutorial Sequence Conservation of Momentum in One Dimension 

Appendix A of H. G. Close's dissertation contains the Conservation of Momentum in One Dimension Pretest, Tutorial, Handout, and Homework.

Published August 12, 2005
Last Modified August 7, 2012

Appendix B: Tutorial Sequence Dynamics of Rigid Bodies 

Appendix B of H. G. Close's dissertation contains the Dynamics of Rigid Bodies Pretest, Tutorial, and Homework.

Published August 12, 2005
Last Modified August 7, 2012

Appendix C: Tutorial Sequence Conservation of Angular Momentum 

Appendix C of H. G. Close's dissertation contains the Conservation of Angular Momentum Pretest, Part 1 of the Tutorial, Part 2 of the Tutorial (versions A, B, and C), the Handout, and Homework.

Published August 12, 2005
Last Modified August 7, 2012

Appendix D: Interactive Tutorial Lecture Friction and Tension 

Appendix D of H. G. Close's dissertation contains the Friction and Tension Pretest and Interactive Tutorial Lecture Worksheet.

Published August 12, 2005
Last Modified August 7, 2012