University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics Education Seminar

Thursday, June 18th 2015
3:00 pm:
Speaker: Ntiana Sachmpazidi, Central Michigan University
Subject: Internet Computer Coaches for Introductory Physics Problem Solving Implemented at CMU

A primary goal of introductory physics courses is to help students develop problem-solving and related critical thinking skills. A physics education research group at the University of Minnesota (UMN) has developed internet-based coaches to help students learn problem-solving, guiding students through a systematic framework for a number of individual physics problems. Initial tests with students from introductory physics courses at UMN indicate that users found the coaches helpful and that those students who actively used the coaches improved their performance on problem-solving components of course exams as compared to similar students who had not used the coaches. In this project, we investigate whether these positive results can be replicated at Central Michigan University. Students in an introductory physics course were given homework assignments that included the coach problems. Students could voluntarily use the coaches to help them complete their assignments. Keystroke data were recorded to monitor how/whether students used the coaches. Students also completed surveys containing questions regarding their opinions of the coaches. The data have been analyzed to address the following issues: the usage and usability of the coaches, their usefulness as perceived by students, and the characteristics of the students who do and don’t use the coaches. The ultimate goal of this research is to develop effective practices for teaching and learning problem-solving in introductory physics courses.

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