Content and Structure Changes to Course:
How the Content and Structure of the Physics Course Was Changed to Reinforce Desired Learning Behaviors and Discourage Initial Behaviors
|Students' Initial Knowledge, Thought Processes and Learning Behaviors
||Desired Knowledge, Thought Processes and Learning Behaviors
||Reinforcement of Desired Behaviors & Barriers to Initial Behaviors
- Students tend to learn physics as a unrelated collection of memorized facts and formulas.
- Consequently, many students
- do not connect physics with the real world,
- do not change their intuitive ideas (misconceptions) about the way the world works, and
- cannot distinguish between fundamental principles and specific applications and elaborations of
- Students will overcome their misconceptions, construct a coherent hierarchy of knowledge based on the fundamental concepts and principles of physics, and be able to apply these concepts and principles to new, real-world situations in a logically consistent manner.
- A story line is provided that concentrates on the fundamental concepts and principles of physics and situates students' learning in a real-world problem-solving framework. The lecturer explicitly models the process of constructing knowledge.
- Within the story-line, multiple situations and content topics are used to illustrate the fundamental concepts and principles.
- The fundamental concepts and principles are given on each exam -- they do not need to be memorized.
- All problems must be solved using only the fundamental concepts and principles given on the test.
- Students tend to solve problems by memorizing sets of specific formulas to use in specific situations (novice strategy).
- Students will learn a logical, general problem-solving strategy that they can use to solve real-world problems.
- Students are taught a logical problem-solving strategy. The strategy is always modeled in its entirety in the lectures.
- Students are given context-rich problems that are too complex to solve with their situation-specific novice strategy.
- Students are provided with a supportive cooperative-group environment in which to practice using the strategy to solve context-rich word problems and concrete experimental problems.
- Students are provided with a booklet that describes the strategy, shows worked examples, and gives practice context-rich problems. They are also given problem-solving format sheets with procedural prompts.
- On tests, students are graded on the use of the strategy as well as for correct physics and mathematical procedures.
Minnesota Model for Large Introductory Courses