Physical Review Physics Education Research

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EISSN : 2469-9896
Published by: American Physical Society (APS) (10.1103)
Total articles ≅ 638
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Dona Hewagallage, Elaine Christman,
Physical Review Physics Education Research, Volume 18; https://doi.org/10.1103/physrevphyseducres.18.010149

Abstract:
This study investigated factors influencing Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation (FMCE) pretest and post-test scores for a sample (N=1116 students) collected in the introductory calculus-based mechanics class at a large eastern land-grant university. Several academic and noncognitive factors were examined using correlation analysis and linear regression analysis to understand their relation to students’ physics conceptual understanding. High school physics preparation was the most important factor in predicting FMCE pretest score. The kind of high school physics class (normal or Advanced Placement) and the student’s academic performance in that class also greatly affected pretest scores. The optimal linear regression model explained 28% of the variance of pretest scores. Controlling for pretest score, ACT or SAT verbal and mathematics scores, students’ grade expectation, and self-efficacy significantly predicted post-test score. The optimal linear regression model explained 54% of the variance of post-test scores. Pretest scores completely captured the effect of high school preparation on post-test scores; if pretest scores were included in a model predicting post-test scores, then high school physics preparation variables were not significant. Gender differences were observed on both the pretest and the post-test. These differences were not substantially mediated by either academic or noncognitive factors.
Greg Kestin, Kelly Miller
Physical Review Physics Education Research, Volume 18; https://doi.org/10.1103/physrevphyseducres.18.010148

Abstract:
The prevalence of online instruction highlights the importance of videos in education. Pedagogies that include elements that actively engage students are accepted as an improvement over more passive modes of instruction. How can we transfer the advantages of active engagement to instruction via video? Previous research on instructional videos has shown that there are a number of principles, the adherence to which benefit student learning by maximizing productive cognitive processing. To understand the impact of combining such principles we designed and produced four different versions of the same physics demonstration video, varying levels of “visual enhancement” designed around these principles and the amount of active engagement across the different versions. Using pre-post video testing, we compared how much viewers learned across the four different versions. We found that actively engaging students by embedding questions throughout the video increases student learning. We also found that physics videos are most effective when they include enhanced visuals and embedded questions. Notably, it is the combination that matters most; the learning effect from embedding questions is increased when the video also includes enhanced visuals. This study represents an important step towards understanding how instructors can design and refine their videos to maximize student learning.
, Bryce E. Hughes, Madison Swirtz, Matthew Mikota, Timothy J. Atherton
Physical Review Physics Education Research, Volume 18; https://doi.org/10.1103/physrevphyseducres.18.010147

Abstract:
LGBT+ persons in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics have a small growing body of literature addressing their experiences and workplace concerns. This study offers workplace climate analysis of 324 survey respondents in the field of physics. The findings indicate that when building a climate model to predict for consideration to leave and outness, a positive workplace climate was a stronger predictor than a negative workplace climate or experiences of exclusionary behavior. This points to the importance of moving beyond workplace climates that are simply neutral, but to ones that are inclusive and welcoming for LGBT+ physicists. This is the final paper in a series of three.
, Diego Ramírez, Abigail Umanzor, , Iván Sánchez
Physical Review Physics Education Research, Volume 18; https://doi.org/10.1103/physrevphyseducres.18.010146

Abstract:
Collaboration among students is fundamental for knowledge building and competency development. Nonetheless, the effectiveness of student collaboration depends on the extent that these interactions take place under conditions that favor commitment, trust, and decision making among those who interact. The worldwide pandemic due to COVID-19 and the transition to emergency remote teaching have added new challenges for collaboration, mainly because now students’ interactions are wholly mediated by information and communication technologies. This study first explores the effectiveness of different collaborative relationships over performance in physics from a sample of secondary students from two schools located in rural and urban areas in southern Chile (exploratory study). We used social network analysis to map academic hierarchies as in the nominations for proficient peers in physics (i.e., physics prestige), collaboration, and friendship ties. We define a strong association if two students who collaborate shared a friendship tie. Using ordinary least squares multiple linear regression models on physics grades, we found positive effects of collaboration over grades, particularly among students working with friends (strong ties). To test whether the effects of collaboration found in the first study were stable throughout two semesters, the following year we designed a quasiexperiment in four classes from the same urban school in the exploratory study. Here, students attended hybrid school sessions where research participants were either in the classroom or participated remotely. The teacher collected the same social networks described in the first study at the end of semester 1, and two times during semester 2. In addition, we followed the same procedures to identify strong and weak collaboration from the network data on each wave of data collection. After fitting ordinary least squares multiple linear regression models, we found that collaborative variables negatively associated with grades on activity 1 (semester 1), yet at the end of the year (activity 3 in semester 2) having strong working ties became positively associated with physics grades. Interestingly, the relationship of academic hierarchies measured in physics prestige with grades transitions from positive on semester 1 to null by the end of the year. These results contribute to the literature of collaboration in physics education and its effectiveness, by taking into account social relationships and the needed time for developing beneficial collective processes among students in the classroom. We discuss these results and their implications for instructional design and guidelines for constructive group-level processes.
, Giaco Corsiglia, Homeyra Sadaghiani, , Steven Pollock
Physical Review Physics Education Research, Volume 18; https://doi.org/10.1103/physrevphyseducres.18.010145

Abstract:
We conducted a multiyear project across three institutions to develop an instructional tutorial that supports student understanding of change of basis in quantum mechanics. Building from our previous work, we identified learning goals to guide activity development. The tutorial makes an analogy between spin-1/2 states and a Cartesian coordinate system. This paper details the iterative development process including reports of observations from classroom implementations and the resulting modifications to the activity. Further, we report preliminary findings on the success of the activity in improving students’ ability to correctly change basis and their articulation that change of basis is a choice of representation, not a change to the physical system.
Giaco Corsiglia, , Homeyra Sadaghiani, Armando Villaseñor, Steven Pollock,
Physical Review Physics Education Research, Volume 18; https://doi.org/10.1103/physrevphyseducres.18.010144

Abstract:
A common task when problem solving in quantum mechanics, including in a spins-first curriculum, involves changing the basis of a given state. Our research in undergraduate quantum mechanics courses at three institutions explores student thinking about basis, basis expansion coefficients, and change of basis in the context of spin-½ systems. Our investigation is based on conceptual and computational written questions as well as student reasoning interviews. We identify student ideas about whether and how changing basis affects the state, examine how students perceive notation as indicative of choice of basis, explore students’ interpretations of the structure and meaning of a basis expansion, and identify the range of methods students employ when changing basis. For instance, we find a recurring idea that changing basis alters the physical system, and observe that some students chose to relabel the ket representing a quantum state vector after changing basis. Together, these results paint a broad, qualitative picture of a variety of ways that students grapple with basis and change of basis, with potential implications for instruction.
Rachel Henderson, Dona Hewagallage, Jake Follmer, Lynnette Michaluk, , ,
Physical Review Physics Education Research, Volume 18; https://doi.org/10.1103/physrevphyseducres.18.010143

Abstract:
Self-efficacy has emerged as one of the most important noncognitive variables explaining academic behavior. It has been shown to influence students’ academic and career decisions as well as their academic performance. Multiple studies have reported differences in self-efficacy between men and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics classes. A student’s personality, characterized by the five-factor model, is also related to academic performance; some personality facets are substantially different for men and women. This work examines the relations among the five-factor model of personality (agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, and openness), self-efficacy toward physics and mathematics, and course outcomes in university physics and mathematics classes. Women reported significantly higher neuroticism in all classes, a medium to large effect size, and significantly higher conscientiousness in Calculus 1 and Physics 1, small effects. Men reported higher self-efficacy in two-semester Calculus 1, one-semester Calculus 1, Physics 1, and Physics 2, small effects. Conscientiousness and neuroticism had competing mediational effects on the relation of gender to self-efficacy. The path through neuroticism accounted for 25%–47% of the total effect of gender on self-efficacy (increasing self-efficacy for men) and the path through conscientiousness accounted for 12%–23% of the total effect (increasing self-efficacy for women). Self-efficacy mediated the relation of conscientiousness to course grade in all classes, accounting for 30%–45% of the total effect.
Yangqiuting Li,
Physical Review Physics Education Research, Volume 18; https://doi.org/10.1103/physrevphyseducres.18.010142

Abstract:
We investigated students’ physics motivational beliefs including their physics self-efficacy, interest, perceived recognition, and identity in a traditionally taught two-semester college calculus-based introductory physics sequence (referred to as physics 1 and physics 2). We studied whether and how these motivational beliefs evolve in this course sequence in terms of the average scores and the predictive relationships among them. The results show that both female and male students’ physics self-efficacy and interest decreased from physics 1 to physics 2, while there was no statistically significant change in students’ perceived recognition and identity. We found signatures of an inequitable and noninclusive learning environment in that not only was there a gender difference in students’ motivational beliefs disadvantaging women, but the gender difference in perceived recognition increased from physics 1 to physics 2. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) to investigate the predictive relationships among students’ motivational beliefs in physics 1 and physics 2. Analysis revealed that perceived recognition from others, e.g., instructors and teaching assistants, was the largest predictor of physics identity in both courses, and the role played by perceived recognition was even more important in physics 2 for predicting identity and mediating the gender difference in self-efficacy. Our findings suggest that perceived recognition is very important for the development of students’ physics identity in both physics 1 and 2. However, female students feel less recognized in the current learning environment and this gender difference grows from physics 1 to physics 2. Instructors should be trained to create an equitable and inclusive learning environment, in which all students feel recognized and supported appropriately and develop a stronger physics self-efficacy, interest, and identity.
Physical Review Physics Education Research, Volume 18; https://doi.org/10.1103/physrevphyseducres.18.010140

Abstract:
This study aimed at analyzing the impact of problem-based learning (PBL) in improving physics students’ conceptual understanding of mechanical waves. This study used a quasiexperimental, pretest–post-test control group design with PBL instruction as a teaching intervention. The participants of this study were 239 physics students from 19 secondary schools in Western Uganda. We analyzed data with SPSS v.23.0 using repeated two-way analysis of variance tests. We found that unlike the superposition of mechanical waves concepts, PBL effectively improves students’ understanding of propagation, reflection, and standing waves more than the usual or traditional teaching method. Teachers were recommended to teach with PBL to assess students’ difficulties to remedy them and uplift their understanding.
Joseph Wilson, , John M. Aiken, , H. J. Lewandowski
Physical Review Physics Education Research, Volume 18; https://doi.org/10.1103/physrevphyseducres.18.010141

Abstract:
Surveys have long been used in physics education research to understand student reasoning and inform course improvements. However, to make analysis of large sets of responses practical, most surveys use a closed-response format with a small set of potential responses. Open-ended formats, such as written free response, can provide deeper insights into student thinking, but take much longer to analyze, especially with a large number of responses. Here, we explore natural language processing as a computational solution to this problem. We create a machine learning model that can take student responses from the Physics Measurement Questionnaire as input, and output a categorization of student reasoning based on different reasoning paradigms. Our model yields classifications with the same level of agreement as that between two humans categorizing the data, but can be done by a computer, and thus can be scaled for large datasets. In this work, we describe the algorithms and methodologies used to create, train, and test our natural language processing system. We also present the results of the analysis and discuss the utility of these approaches for analyzing open-response data in education research.
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