Date of Award

Summer 8-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Dr. Brian Thoms

Second Advisor

Dr. Ramon Lopez

Third Advisor

Dr. Cherilynn Morrow

Fourth Advisor

Dr. John Evans

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that many students have misconceptions about basic concepts in physics which persist after instruction. It has been concluded that one of the challenges lies in the teaching methodology. To address this, Georgia State University (GSU) has begun teaching studio algebra-based physics. Although many institutions have implemented studio physics, most have done so in calculus-based sequences. Additionally, the unique environment of GSU’s population as a diverse, urban research institution is considered. The effectiveness of the studio approach for this demographic in an algebra-based introductory physics course was assessed. This five-semester pilot study presents demographic survey results and compares the results of student pre- and post-tests using the Force Concept Inventory (FCI). FCI results show that 1) the studio approach yields higher learning gains than the conventional course, 2) there are significant performance differences among ethnic groups, and 3) a gender gaps exists regardless of instructional method.

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