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Abstract Title: Hidden variables: predicting student performance in introductory physics
Abstract: In a previous study, we found that that students' incoming preparation in physics--crudely measured by concept inventory prescores and math SAT or ACT scores--explains 34\% of the variation in Physics 1 final exam scores at [Redacted] University. In this study, to understand the variation in exam scores not explained by these measures of incoming preparation, we interviewed 34 students with weak preparation about their experiences in the course. We did not find there to be many different idiosyncratic issues they felt were important, but rather there were a set of practices and attitudes common to many students.  Some of these practices, such as certain study habits, were surprisingly unrelated to student performance. Others, including certain types of collaborative interactions between students, were predictive of course performance after controlling for prior preparation.  These results offer some guidance as to how instructors might improve the experience and performance of the less prepared students in Physics 1.  These findings are for a small, relatively select sample, but we anticipate that many of the results will apply across a broader student population.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session I
Poster Number: 1.C2

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Eric Burkholder
Department of Physics, Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305
Phone: 8604061416
and Co-Presenter(s)
Carl Wieman, Department of Physics and Graduate School of Education, Stanford Univeristy

Lena Blackmon, Department of Applied Physics, Stanford University