The effects of instant lab feedback through the use of excel spreadsheet on student learning in high school physics
Wilkie, John L.
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In my physics classes, I found students disengaged from laboratories. They work through the procedure and analysis, but upon receiving back graded labs they often disregard the feedback since the grade has already been given. I believed this put them at a disadvantage on assessments since they would never correct their misconceptions. I wanted to know if students would learn better if they received instant feedback during the labs so that they could correct their misconceptions when it was relevant to their grades. My focus question was to see the effect would be of immediate feedback during laboratory exercises via Excel spreadsheet. As a subquestion, I wanted to know specifically what effect this immediate feedback would have on their summative assessment scores. Research was performed on two sections of physics students over four units of study. Two of the units had laboratories in which feedback would be given in the traditional manner in which students complete a lab and it is them graded and returned to them to review. Two of the units had laboratories in which feedback is automatically given via a preprogrammed Excel spreadsheet which would return a smiley face for correct cell values and a frowny face for incorrect cell values. To study the effects on student attitudes I had students take a survey on their feelings about physics, laboratories, and laboratory feedback both before and after the action research. Students were also chosen at random and asked to participate in a short interview to probe deeper into student attitudes. To measure student performance on summative assessments, unit concept inventory test was given before and after each unit. Both survey responses and test scores were analyzed to see if there was any significant difference due to the instant feedback given during laboratories. The results of the analysis showed that though students found the laboratories enriching in their visualization of the concepts, there was inconclusive evidence to suggest and difference in student attitudes or in student test performance. During interviews students expressed that they found laboratories not very useful for the purposes of studying for quizzes and tests, as laboratories seem to require a different set of skills than those normally required for a classical multiple choice or written assessment.