We plan on using other methods to probe student thinking- interviews, journals, etc.
I want to combine these findings with students' performance on context-rich problems.
Typical textbook exercise: Determine the stopping distance for an object moving down a slope with friction with an initial speed of 20.0 m/s. Assume ? m = 0.180 and q = 5.00°.
Context-rich problem: Over the break you head up to San Francisco to visit a friend from your dorm. Since this is the first time you’ve visited this friend, you find yourself constant looking down at the map which she emailed you. (You might guess where this is going.) As you are driving up a hill, you glance down at the map for just a moment to check the house number when a kid runs out in the street. You look up just in time to slam on your brakes and skid to a stop without harming the kid. While the kid goes on his way, as if he doesn’t even notice you, a police officer did notice you and your 30-foot skid mark. He promptly marches over and writes a ticket for speeding in a 25 mph zone. While you weren’t watching your speedometer you didn’t think you were speeding. Perhaps physics can come to the rescue. You determine that the street makes an angle of 20° with the horizontal. Your car manual tells you that the mass of your car is 1430 kg. Will you fight the ticket in court?
We are currently working with physics faculty at several other schools. Many have already contributed data, and others are giving the various surveys this semester and will share their data.
Several other faculty in CSE have voiced their support for our work and are backing our push to test all students in our College at orientation.
We are discussing revisions to introductory physics. One idea has been to create sections based on students' reasoning skills that would better address their strengths and weaknesses.
We've begun to assemble ideas for instruction that would address students' scientific reasoning weaknesses. One specific aspect which we are considering is proportional reasoning.