Student performance on traditional exam questions in two instructional settings

M.S. Sabella, R.N. Steinberg, and E.F. Redish

Presented at AAPT 97 in Denver, CO
August, 1997


In the past few years, researchers have demonstrated that interactive engagement methods can help
students build fundamental physics concepts in the introductory university physics course. While it is
sometimes assumed that building strong concepts will help students solve problems, transfer of learning
from one domain to another is difficult and cannot be taken for granted. The UMCP Physics Education
Research Group has been comparing two instructional approaches in the engineering physics course at
UMCP. One class has traditional problem solving recitations while the other has McDermott style
tutorials. We have probed student problem-solving by giving both classes identical exam questions.
Improvement can be observed in some contexts. We will also describe how we have attempted to address
concept-to-problem transfer issues by giving the students "bridging problems" that link basic concepts to
traditional problems.




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