The effect of group created lab designs on students' understanding of content and science practices
Merriman, Steven M.
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Community college health and engineering students often have difficulty understanding physics on a conceptual level, as well as general science practices used in experimentation and data analysis. This often leads to low levels of confidence in both, which effects classroom moral. For my intervention, I have students design their own physics labs as a means of having them think deeply about content and lab analysis, and measure the outcomes on both their understanding of each, as well as confidence. To measure student understanding of course content, each lab will have an associated pre and post-test to compare. I will also make use of their first exam to compare to past semesters, and the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) to compare nationally. Growth in confidence makes use of pre-intervention and post-intervention surveys, as well as student interviews. Growth in data analysis and science practices use pre- and post-tests, given before and after the intervention. Through the intervention I have observed increases in content understanding, as evident by increases in average pre-posttests scores for each lab. Students also showed growth in the normalized gains on the FCI (higher then past semesters and the national average). Student confidence also increased in terms of both their understanding of physics, science and data analysis. Student understanding of analyzing data was also greatly increased, and is what I consider the most successful part of the intervention.