Modeling instruction: Positive attitudinal shifts in introductory physics measured with CLASS


Among the most surprising findings in Physics Education Research is the lack of positive results on attitudinal measures, such as Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey (CLASS) and Maryland Physics Expectations Survey (MPEX). The uniformity with which physics teaching manages to negatively shift attitudes toward physics learning is striking. Strategies which have been shown to improve conceptual learning, such as interactive engagement and studio-format classes, provide more authentic science experiences for students; yet do not seem to be sufficient to produce positive attitudinal results. Florida International University's Physics Education Research Group has implemented Modeling Instruction in University Physics classes as part of an overall effort toward building a research and learning community. Modeling Instruction is explicitly designed to engage students in scientific practices that include model building, validation, and revision. Results from a preinstruction/ postinstruction CLASS measurement show attitudinal improvements through both semesters of an introductory physics sequence, as well as over the entire two-course sequence. In this Brief Report, we report positive shifts from the CLASS in one section of a modeling-based introductory physics sequence, for both mechanics (N=22) and electricity and magnetism (N=23). Using the CLASS results and follow up interviews, we examine how these results reflect on modeling instruction and the unique student community and population at FIU. © 2009 The American Physical Society.

Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research