Laboratory courses expose students to the important skills of thinking and working scientifically; this may mean looking for correlational variables, testing a hypothesis, or confirming a theory. In the Calculus-Based Physics I course at Bridgewater State University, students are introduced to the idea of using an experimental setup to confirm fundamental physical principles studied in class. Students often struggle to master this idea of making a connection between theory and experiment, so we tested two different methods of improving the laboratory experience: prelaboratory data activities and scaffolded laboratory procedures. By tracking student progress through laboratory journals and conceptual tests, normalizing grades recorded for different groups, and calculating the gains made in each semester involved in the project, we can begin to see the effect of these different curriculum designs. Results of this project support methods which emphasize laboratory process over course content: semesters where pre-laboratory data activities were used showed a negligible laboratory gain of +0.0625, while the semester where scaffolded laboratory procedures were used showed a high positive gain of +3.69. These findings will be used during curriculum development of future Calculus-Based Physics I semesters to provide students with more opportunities for growth.
Comparing the Overall Effectiveness of Pre- Laboratory Data Activities and Scaffolded Laboratory Procedures in Calculus- Based Physics I.
Undergraduate Review, 15, 116-122.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/undergrad_rev/vol15/iss1/13
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