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Goal: To learn if the implementation of Peer Instruction during the Fall semester will
enhance the understanding of Newtonian concepts within my introductory Physics
1. Obtain and read Peer Instruction.
2. Split my regular intro. Physics classes into two groups with as close as possible to a
50/50 student split.
Based on last year's schedule:
a. 1st hour will be used as a base-line comparison receiving "normal" (what I have
classically done) classroom instruction. This class tends to receive slightly shorter
instruction due to administrative duties. Any extra time will be consumed with
problem-solving practice.
b. 3rd & 4th hour will have the added variable of Peer instruction. After a topic has
been presented, flash card response will be incorporated into a conceptest approach to
identify and correct student misconceptions with discussion within student groupings
of 3 to 4. These students will be assigned problem practice at home (perhaps Web
3. Obtain flash cards of 4 distinct colors with a star on one side (relatively sure of the
answer) and a "?" on the other (not sure).
4. Obtain conceptests from The Physics Suite (Redish) and Galileo (Mazur) websites
4. Give the FCI during the third week as a pretest and during week 16 as a posttest.
a. The first two weeks of school are normally devoted to reviewing basic math concepts
with a pretest included. I may also include EBR's post Physical Science test.
b. Use the following concepts to direct conceptests: (Published in: Force Concept
Inventory The Physics Teacher, Vol. 30, March 1992, 141-158)
Maybe do 1st hour as peer instruction as a dry run. Use pretest/posttest model for
each unit with maybe a couple of problems on test.
If division into 50/50 isn’t possible, use what you’ve got.
Give all students Webassign and let peer instruction work on as a group with
randomized questions. All students print out webassign assignment to take
Document student background. How many go to college? (Ask guidance office)
Break up FCI by concept and break it into small pretest/posttest (like do
kinematics by itself, then 1st and 2nd law questions together, etc.)
Table I. Newtonian Concepts in the Inventory.
Inventory Item
0. Kinematics
Velocity discriminated from position 20E Acceleration discriminated from velocity
Constant acceleration entails parabolic orbit 23D, 24E changing speed 25B
Vector addition of velocities (7E)
I. First Law
with no force 4B, (6B), 10B velocity direction constant 26B speed constant 8A, 27 A
with canceling forces 18B,28C
2. Second Law
Impulsive force (6B), (7E) Constant force implies constant acceleration 24E, 25B
3. Third Law
for impulsive forces 2E, llE for continuous forces 13A, 14A
4. Superposition Principle
Vector sum 19B Canceling forces (9D), 18B, 28C
5. Kinds or Force
5S. Solid contact passive (9D), (12 B,D) Impulsive 15C Friction opposes motion 29C
Fluid contact Air resistance 22D buoyant (air pressure) 12 5G. Gravitation 5D, 9D,
17C, I8B, 22D acceleration independent of weight 1C, 3A parabolic trajectory 16B,
c. Add concept questions aligned with table. 1 on each unit test given during the
semester to analyze short-term growth.
Student Population:
Students are average High School students >80% Caucasian with the other 20%
composed of African-American and Hispanic students. Most students seem to be from
lower to higher middle-class families with a predisposition toward attending college.
1 Depending on how my schedule varies from last year split my student's w/in classes as
close to 50/50 as possible.
Literature Review:
1. Force Concept Inventory, The Physics Teacher, Vol. 30, March 1992, 141-158
This paper is an evaluation instrument explicitly on the student's understanding of
Newtonian motion concepts. Extensive work is done to separate a student's use of
commonsense beliefs with a true grasp of the information. It is noted that this test is
applicable within most levels of instruction and success depicts a true concept ional
understanding not just an application of formula or student background (AP. Honors,
2. Assessing student learning of Newton’s laws: The Force and Motion Conceptual
Evaluation and the Evaluation of Active Learning Laboratory and Lecture Curricula, Am.
J. Phys., Vol. 66, No. 4, April 1998.
3. RL- PER1: Resource Letter on Physics Education Research, American Association of
Physics Teachers, 1999. To be published in The American Journal of Physics.
4. Testing student interpretation of kinematics graphs, Am. 3. Phys. 62 (8), August 1994