Students’ reasoning skills, views of learning and success in physics

Jeff Phillips & VIncent Coletta

Loyola Marymount University

SCAAPT 2005 Fall Meeting


(This talk, and others related to this research, can be found at




Despite the fact that most students in a class show improvements in their understanding of physics concepts, there are often students who struggle to grasp the fundamentals. Even with interactive teaching techniques often a fraction of the class is not able to perform at the expected level.


For example, here is an example histogram from my class last spring showing students' normalized gains on the Force Conept Inventory (FCI):

Despite the fact that the class average gain was 0.48, several students had low gains (below 0.30). In fact, some students had negative "gains"!



Central questions of our project