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Abstract Title: Open Online Physics Homework Forums
Abstract: Open, online, homework help forums are websites where any student with Internet access can post questions from their coursework.  By participating in these homework forums, students have access to more knowledgeable peers and experts who voluntarily provide help and encouragement.  These forums provide a new context for studying help-seeking behavior, tutoring strategies, and can serve as a catalog of common student difficulties.  In this poster, we focus on the two largest english-speaking physics forums:  www.physicsforums.com and www.cramster.com.  For PhysicsForums, we collected a month's worth of tutoring exchanges for introductory physics homework.  We analyzed the participation structure of the exchanges by tabulating conversational turns, giving insight into the social interactions that occur. We also qualitatively analyzed the exchanges based on the quality of the instruction and the sophistication of the pedagogical approaches employed by the tutors.  In addition, we conducted a much briefer analysis of Cramster.  We conclude that effective tutoring can occur in this setting if tutors have the goal of encouraging active student learning.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Brett van de Sande
Arizona State University
and Co-Presenter(s)
Co-author:  Carla van de Sande
Affiliation: Arizona State University
Email:  carla.vandesande -at- asu.edu