Thinking In Physics: Scientific Reasoning Skills & Metacognition in Introductory Physics

Drs. Coletta & Phillips worked on a project that examined factors that may be related to student success in physics. They looked at cognitive and epistemological aspects of student thinking. Specifically, scientific reasoning (such as working with proportions) and beliefs about how one learns.

Results suggested that existing surveys may be useful in isolating factors that correlate with improvement on physics conceptual tests. Data primarily come from these surveys, but in the study interviews and other qualitative methods were used.

By identifying some of the factors that correlated with conceptual understanding, the researchers were able to identify students who benefit from additional, or different, instruction.


July 2007: The National Science Foundation (Division of Undergraduate Education) made an award to support the Thinking In Physics program. The Phase I Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) award to support the development and assessment of instructional mathods and materials aimed at helping college students who would otherwise struggle in introductory physics courses.




Updates on the project have been presented at meetings of the American Association of Physics Teachers and Carnegie Colloquium. Copies of some of these presentations are listed below:


Dr. Phillips is interested in making contact with other instructors & researchers so a more diverse set of students can be studied. Anybody who would like to participate should contact Dr. Phillips.