Mechanics Understanding in PHY121/111

Submitted by Dwain Desbien on

Pre-post testing will be done using the FCI to look at student understanding of Newton's laws.  These will not be done for a grade as the assessment is written in common language so that it really probes student understanding.  A score above 60% is considered the threshold of Newtonian thinking.  A gain of 30% pre to post is considered a very good result from national studies done using this instrument.

The post-test has been given and results can be seen in attached file below.  The gain was 53% pre to post for my two PHY121 classes.  This well above the national norm.  Additionally it should be noted that the Learning Community (LC) class out performed (though slightly) the normal 121 class.  This is even more interesting because the LC class is less prepared mathematically and had a lower pretest score.  

From looking at the data changes will be implemented for next semester on how Newton's third law and motion diagrams is presented and will see if that improves scores on those quesitons. These changes resulted in a 30% improvment on these areas on FCI.

Completed Full Cycle
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fci-fall-2012.xlsx 28.78 KB
Average: 5 (2 votes)


Erik Huntsinger Wed, 09/12/2012 - 9:46am

I'm interested to see how well your students will perform- do you have any expectations before you give it to them?  Also, I was wondering what incentive do students have for doing well on this if their grades are not tied to their performance.  

Would you mind check out the URL link to make sure it is correct?  I tried to access it but it didn't seem to work.  If it is a pdf file, it could be attached instead of listed as a URL.

Peter Turner Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:11pm

I also am interested in how well your students will perform. One question I have, depending upon student growth in the post-testing cycle, will you change any of your actions the subsequent semester? For example, if the growth is not what you expected, what  (if anything) will you do differently the next semester?

Dwain Desbien Mon, 12/03/2012 - 11:04am

Yes, modifications are done after each cycle to address areas where students did not perform as well as expected.  Will be giving the postests this week and will post results and then look at curricular modifiations.

Bronwen Steele Tue, 09/17/2013 - 7:25am

Dwain, just wondering, did you get a chance to add more data to this?

Dwain Desbien Tue, 09/17/2013 - 8:43am

Bronwen, the redone curriculum is being tested this fall and will be compared to performance in the previous semesters... However, this will be in a new CATS cycle.