Abstract of Paper to be presented at GIREP2000 "Physics Teacher Education Beyond 2000" in Barcelona 27 August - 1 September 2000.

Link to full paper (pdf-format)

 

DOES ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT CURRICULA GIVE LONG-LIVED CONCEPTUAL UNDERSTANDING?*

Jonte Bernhard
ITN, Campus Norrköping, Linköping University, S-60174 Norrköping, Sweden**

Both constructivist and sociocultural views of learning and instruction stresses the crucial role of active engage-ment. R R Hake [1] have in large-scale study demonstrated that curricula that use "active engagement" instructional strategies achieve high gains in the Force Concept Inventory test (FCI) [2]. However most testing have been done at the end or immediately after a course. The important question is thus if strategies that purport to achieve high gains in conceptual tests such as the FCI-test or the Force and Motion ConceptualEvaluation (FMCE) [3] produce a permanent change in students world view from "Aristotelian" to "Newtonian" or if the effects reported are only temporary?
At Högskolan Dalarna we have reformed our introductory physics courses into "active engagement" using a modified RealTime Physics [4] approach. The FCI- and FMCE-tests have been used as a follow test on a group of pre-service teachers. Five semesters after their physics course they got a 71% FCI follow-test average. As a comparison engineering students in a reformed mechanics course got 73% FCI post-test average (45% normalised gain) when tested immediately after their course. Francis et al [5] have also probed the extent to which student gains on the FCI resulting from active engagement instruction persisted beyond the conclusion of the course and found little decline in FCI scores over several years following instruction at their institution. Our data and the data by Francis et al implies that curricula who actively engage the students, do appear to make a permanent change in students' conceptual framework.

1. R R Hake, Am J Phys, 66, 64­74 (1998).
2. D Hestenes, M Wells and G Swackhamer, Phys Teach 30, 159-165 (1992).
3. R Thornton and D Sokoloff, Am J Phys, 66, 338-352 (1998).
4. D Sokoloff, R Thornton and P Laws. RealTime Physics, active learning laboratories. Wiley, New York, NY, USA (1998). P Laws, Proc Conf on Intro Physics Course, 125-136, Wiley, New York, 1997.
5. G Francis, J Adams and E Noonan, Phys. Teach. 36, 488-490 (1998).

* Partial financial support from the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education, Council for Renewal of Undergraduate Education, is gratefully acknowledged
** The work described in this paper was mainly done while the author was employed at Högskolan Dalarna, Sweden.