2009-08-31

Anderson MST: Three ways of teaching Newton's Second Law

Mindi Kvaal Anderson
Comparing the Effectiveness of Three Unique Research Based Tutorials for Introducing Newton’s Second Law
Unpublished MST thesis, University of Maine, August, 2009

Recent research has shown that guided inquiry tutorials can be effective supplements to traditional methods of teaching. This study examines the learning outcomes of three different tutorials about Newton’s Second Law (NSL): the University of Maryland’s Activity Based Tutorial, the University of Maryland’s Open Source Tutorial and the University of Washington’s Tutorial in Introductory Physics. Specifically, to what extent does a single hour of tutorial impact student learning of NSL? The force and motion conceptual evaluation (FMCE), a multiple-choice assessment instrument, is used to evaluate gains in conceptual understanding in the areas of one dimensional motion and kinematics in introductory physics courses. FMCE pretest and post-test data were collected for each of the three guided inquiry tutorial groups. The data was analyzed by separating the exam into clusters using a template created by Michael Wittmann and later updated by Trevor Smith. Gains for each tutorial group on the NSL portions of the FMCE were compared for students in a first semester algebra-based physics course. Although significant gains were not recorded in overall scores for any particular tutorial group over the others, analysis of the FMCE showed definite improvement areas by tutorial groups for certain curricula.