University of Minnesota

Physics Education Research and Development Group

Changes in Lecture, Discussion(Recitation) and Labs:

Table 2.
Reinforcement of Desired Student Behaviors and Barriers to Initial Behaviors in the Lecture, Recitation and Laboratories

Students' Initial Expectations of Learning Behavior Desired Learning Behavior Reinforcement of Desired Behaviors & Barriers to Initial Behaviors
  • Some students attend lectures to clarify the reading in the textbook. They expect to sit passively and take notes on important facts and formulas that they will process (memorize) later.
  • Some students attend the lectures to make sure they don't miss any important announcements and hints for the next test. They listen sporadically while reading the paper or studying for another course. They expect that everything they need to know is in the textbook.
  • Some students do not attend the lectures. They expect to be able to read and memorize the important facts and formulas in the textbook just before an exam.
  • Students will actively process information, continually comparing their own intuitive ideas with those being developed by the lecturer.
  • They will only take notes on issues they wish to think more about later.
  • Students are encouraged to talk softly to their neighbors during the lecture to check their understanding of the new concepts or problem-solving procedure.
  • The lecturer occasionally stops talking and asks students to individually write down a prediction of the outcome of a demonstration, the answer of short qualitative question, or results for a step of a problem solution.
  • Students participate in small ad hoc cooperative groups to compare their predictions about the outcome of a demonstration, their answers to a qualitative question, or their problem-solving procedure.
  • Written predictions or answers to a question are occasionally collected for grading.
  • The lecturer prepares overheads which are photocopied and available for students to purchase.

  • Students expect TAs to answer specific questions about the solution of specific problems which they find difficult.
  • After the first few sessions, most students stop attending because their questions are not addressed (there is insufficient time to answer 15 - 20 different questions).
  • Students will be actively engaged in refining their logical problem-solving techniques.
  • As they try to solve written problems, students will recognize when their intuitive conceptions are incorrect.
  • Students are provided a supportive cooperative-group environment so they can solve context-rich problems. TAs circulate among the groups to provide coaching as needed.
  • About three times a quarter, one of the cooperative group problems is turned in and counts as one test question.
  • If a student is absent from the previous recitation session, he cannot take the group test problem and he receives a grade of zero for that question.

  • During labs, students expect to passively follow a clear step-by-step laboratory procedure to get a predetermined result.
  • Students expect lab instructions to contain all necessary information so that they do need to prepare for a lab.
  • Students will prepare for each lab by reviewing the appropriate sections of the textbook and connecting the concepts of the lab to the appropriate lecture(s).
  • During the lab, students will be actively engaged in using fundamental concepts and principles to solve concrete, experimental problems.
  • Students will recognize when their intuitive concepts disagree with the way the world works.
  • Students must pass a short lab preparation test before they can participate in the lab.
  • Students must make individual predictions of the behavior of the system under investigation before the lab. The TA checks predictions during the lab.
  • The labs are designed so students must make many decisions: predict results; qualitatively explore the physical behavior of the system to check predictions and the range of the apparatus; and plan precise measurement and analysis procedures;
  • Students are put in a supportive cooperative-group environment so they can compare their individual predictions and collectively make the required decisions. TAs circulate among the groups to focus students' attentions on the comparison of their results with their predictions and provide coaching as necessary.

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  • Last modified on October 15, 2012