Comprehensive Assessment Tracking System

Conceputual Understanding in PHY121 Learning Community vs Normal Class

Contributors: 
REBZS76641's picture
Rebecca Baranowski
Tuesday, August 20, 2013 to Thursday, December 4, 2014
Abstract: 

Many people do learning communities (see MAT and CPD LC's) to try improve retention in classes.  However, the LC between PHY 121 and MAT 221 has been about trying to improve student understanding of the concepts of physics and calculus and how they fit together.  Retention and success in these coures have been fine which is reason for focus on understanding rather than retention.  From the attached file it can be seen that on the Force Concept Inventory the LC students did better than traditional class even though they had less math preparation for the course.  Thus, the LC improves understanding and allows students to get through faster without hurting their learning. Will used what areas still need improvement from FCI for focus in spring LC.

Division/Department: 
Completed Full Cycle: 
Yes
Course Number: 
PHY121
MAT221
AttachmentSize
File fci-fall-2013.xlsx31.03 KB

Comments

REBZS76641's picture
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Note:  When Dwain and Holly taught this learning community (3 semesters worth of data), they had the same results.  The post test on the force concept exam in the previous learning communities had higher results for the learning community students.  The results were also more significant between the learning community and traditional physics class in the past. 

     As my first time teaching the learning community, it has been a rough semester with our group of students.  We had a very poor performing group in our learning community.  Thus, it was very surprising to us that they still out performed Dwain's traditional PHY121 class.  

DAVYQ47621's picture
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Nice job Becky and Dwain.  Integrating these two classes makes a lot of sense.  Mel and I are doing the same thing at the high school level and have found similar results.  We really like the "ahaa" moments when the students are able to see the connections between the two classes.  Can you share any particular experiences or activies where you observed the magic of an "ahaa" moment?

PETAA00009's picture
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Dwain - good action research to help support the efficacy of the Learning Community concept! What areas for improvement are you going to focus on?
 

BROAA00004's picture
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This is great, I like the emphasis on the conceptual learning and connecting the two courses.

ERIQF52091's picture
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The attached results don't seem to indicate much difference between the LC and regular students, except when we understand the LC students had less math experience coming into the class.  It seems that having it as a co-requisite instead of a pre-requisite enhances student learning.

My question for everyone is, what are the implications of this for developmental education?  There is a movement at the national level to get deficient students into college-level courses earlier and give them supplemental instruction.  This research shows support for this argument.  Good to bear in mind as our college focuses on developmental ed for our HLC project.

HEA2156907's picture
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We have talked extensively in the Reading Instruction Council about the idea of placing students in college level course and then provide them extra support in reading or math.  Erik, you are right, there is a national movement and research to support this.  In fact, some of our sister colleges are piloting reading courses that are paired with particular Science or Math or Psychology courses to see if this type of developmental support yields better result than the current pre-requisite model.  

DWAXT23951's picture
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I am not sure it has any implications for developmental ed. These students are long past developmental ed as they still would have completed MAT 182 before being eligible for this class. While I understand the push nationally I just don't think this helps. What it does help is speeding the students along in STEM as it essentially helps them move ahead a semester. 

rall's picture
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Dwain,

The idea of  a LC for physics and calculus sems to be a natural combination for teaching teaching either subject. However, the excel sheet seemed to have a difference gain of 1% between the regular and LC classes. Is this a significant difference? Although most class gains from the FCI that I've seen from research suggests that 30% is a great indicator of improved student learning even in a non-traditional physics course. Personally, the classes I taught in conceptual physics from NC had a gain near the range of 25%, so a 50% gain in either the regular or LC class is very remarkable.

James