Proposal Title

An investigation of student learning of concepts in mechanical waves

Session Type

Poster

Start Date

6-7-2011 5:30 PM

Keywords

physics education, waves, evaluation of learning, diagnostic test

Primary Threads

Evaluation of Learning

Abstract

We have investigated student understanding of the basic concepts of mechanical wave motion using a diagnostic developed previously by Wittmann et al. [1] The test employs a combination of multiple choice and free response questions, and focuses on four concepts: the speed of sound waves in air, superposition of waves, the motion of a wave pulse on a string, and the motion of a particle in a sound wave. The diagnostic test was administered pre- and post-instruction to students in a second-year university physics course on Oscillations and Waves, and was also administered pre-instruction to a first-year physics class to provide baseline data. The pre-test results, and the student misconceptions they point to, were similar to those of Wittmann et al. [1] and Tongchai et al. [2] Based on the results of the pre-test, common student misconceptions were identified. Two tutorial exercises intended to lead students to confront and resolve these misconceptions [3] were developed. The first tutorial involved small-group experiments on the speed of waves propagating along a stretched spring. The second was a computer-based exercise on superposition and Fourier analysis. Post-test results were used to evaluate the effectiveness of these tutorials and the persistence of the misconceptions. [1] M. C. Wittmann, R. N. Steinberg, and E. F. Redish, Phys. Teacher 37, 15 (1999). [2] A. Tongchai, M. D. Sharma, I. D. Johnston, K. Arayathanitkul, and C. Soankwan, Int. J. Science. Ed. 31, 2437 (2009). [3] L. C. McDermott, Am. J. Phys. 59, 301 (1991).

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Jul 6th, 5:30 PM

An investigation of student learning of concepts in mechanical waves

We have investigated student understanding of the basic concepts of mechanical wave motion using a diagnostic developed previously by Wittmann et al. [1] The test employs a combination of multiple choice and free response questions, and focuses on four concepts: the speed of sound waves in air, superposition of waves, the motion of a wave pulse on a string, and the motion of a particle in a sound wave. The diagnostic test was administered pre- and post-instruction to students in a second-year university physics course on Oscillations and Waves, and was also administered pre-instruction to a first-year physics class to provide baseline data. The pre-test results, and the student misconceptions they point to, were similar to those of Wittmann et al. [1] and Tongchai et al. [2] Based on the results of the pre-test, common student misconceptions were identified. Two tutorial exercises intended to lead students to confront and resolve these misconceptions [3] were developed. The first tutorial involved small-group experiments on the speed of waves propagating along a stretched spring. The second was a computer-based exercise on superposition and Fourier analysis. Post-test results were used to evaluate the effectiveness of these tutorials and the persistence of the misconceptions. [1] M. C. Wittmann, R. N. Steinberg, and E. F. Redish, Phys. Teacher 37, 15 (1999). [2] A. Tongchai, M. D. Sharma, I. D. Johnston, K. Arayathanitkul, and C. Soankwan, Int. J. Science. Ed. 31, 2437 (2009). [3] L. C. McDermott, Am. J. Phys. 59, 301 (1991).