How the Content and Structure of the Physics Course Was Changed
to Reinforce Desired Learning Behaviors and Discourage Initial
|Students' Initial Knowledge, Thought Processes and
||Desired Knowledge, Thought Processes and Learning
||Reinforcement of Desired Behaviors & Barriers to
- Students tend to learn physics as a unrelated
collection of memorized facts and formulas.
- Consequently, many students
- do not connect physics with the real
- do not change their intuitive ideas
(misconceptions) about the way the world
- cannot distinguish between fundamental
principles and specific applications and
elaborations of these principles.
| 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- On tests, students are graded on the use of the
strategy as well as for correct physics and
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Last Updated: March 5, 1997