Day 42: How to present the solution to this ‘ca’ problem, hmmmm? and a SLO day

Advanced Physics:

As I mentioned yesterday, today the plan was to WB a set of 5 ca problems that the students have had in their possession since last Friday.  There were to be prepared to present the solution either graphically and or kinematically (that is, using the kinematic equations). Rather that me dictating which method I wanted to see, I let the class decide.  Going in to this, I was pretty excited about how I let them decide.  I set up a little Senteo (clicker, or student response system) quiz with 5 questions…. well actually, one question asked 5 times.  Here it is:

Q: I would like to see the solution to Problem #1 presented :    A)  graphically             B) with the kinematic equations.

I ran in anonymous mode to answer the questions, and whichever had the most votes, that was how it was presented.  The results you ask?  In Mod 1, only 1 of the 5 was presented graphically; in Mod 2 all 5 presented with the kinematic equations; and in Mod 3, again all 5 presented with the kinematic equations.  Well, I’m not ashamed to tell you I was a bit surprised.  I was betting that most would want to see them graphical solutions, but I was wrong.  In mod 3, I threw out my hypothesis to the class.  As a teacher, one way to interpret this is so think “Well, they all solved them graphically and are confident in the solutions, but not so sure of the kinematic approach.”  As I said that, I saw a several heads nodding.  What I should have done is ask a follow-up to each question… “I solved Problem #1     A) Graphically      B) using the kinematic equations.   Maybe next time.


General Physics:

This was a SLO day.  If you are reading this in Wisconsin, you most definitely know what a SLO is.  It stands for Student Learning Objective.   In an over simplified way, this is a means to document and quantify student learning.  The SLO (including a whole bunch of components) gets entered on-line.  I do not have an issue with the process.  I have always thought it is  good idea to reflect on one’s practice and to use data to improve it.

SIDEBAR:  I DO wish we had been given inservice time to work through the process as we neared our due date.

So, you might be wondering what we used as our SLO.  We decided to go with the theme of understanding kinematic graphs.  One of the reasons is because this is always tough for students. Another reason is that the timing is right.  We are just getting ready to start our kinematic units with the general kids. A final reason is that it is easily quantified.  We are using the TUG-K (Test of Understanding of Graphs in  Kinematics).  I have read about the TUG-K but have never given it to a class (I have been using the FCI for a long time).  The TUG-K was developed by Robert Beichner at the University of North Carolina. It is very well researched which is another positive.  The version we gave was 20 questions and my class average was 6… so lots of work to do, no surprise there.   I’m looking forward to 5 or 6 weeks down the road when we give the TUG-K again. Not only to see the improvement, but also as a way to evaluate my instruction.  Did what I choose to do help the students grow in their understanding of these graphs?

SIDEBAR:  The way we administered the test was pretty cool and was made possible by Joe Connelly,(you should follow him on Twitter)  a colleague I met through the Phox Valley Physics and Physics Share Group (@PhoxShare).  Joe has put in a huge amount of work so that members of our share group can give a wide variety of concept tests in a secure, password protected online environment.

I’m looking forward to digging into the spreadsheet of results to see exactly where most students are going to struggle. Two days of Parent-Teacher Conferences coming our way tomorrow and Friday, so maybe I will have some time to start digging!

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