Moving to CiteULike

Well, I lied in my last post. Sorry.

Updating citations in both this blog and the CiteULike location is too onerous a task to continue.

Here are some weaknesses of the existing blog:

  • Posting articles in this blog is time consuming and strips relevant information.

  • Searching for past posts in this blog is difficult, with too many tags for each article, and no distinction between authors, journals, and keywords in the tagging system.

  • Downloading a citation is difficult, if you wish to enter the citation into your own database

  • Links are often difficult to manage, since sometimes the DOI link is unavailable, and other links are restricted.

The list could go on, but I won't. CiteULike addresses nearly all these concerns. It is richer, easier, and more dynamic than this blog. It is the appropriate tool for the task.

One added benefit of the PERticles blog on CiteULike is that anyone who joins the group can post articles. Yes, anyone. That means you. Joss Ives has been a great help, and I certainly hope that others join in.

What can you do on CiteULike?

The peasant is dead - long live the peasant. CiteULike is the new location for the PERticles blog. Thanks for subscribing to this blog - join us and join in at the new, improved PERticle blog.


Testing a new PERticles location

Hi all,

Thanks for following this blog. It's really amazing how many people mention it to me. I really appreciate that.

The thing is, blogger really stinks for keeping a blog of this nature. It's hard to get a citation out, it's hard to tag all the journals, authors, and so on, and it's generally not designed for this kind of task.

CiteULike is designed much better. Really, if you don't know it, you should. It's fabulous. Check out this link. If you want to subscribe to the feed, click here.

I will keep double-posting for a while, but the long range plan is to head entirely to CiteULike. It's the right tool for the job.



Brewe Kramer O’Brien - PRST-PER 2009

Modeling instruction: Positive attitudinal shifts in introductory physics measured with CLASS
Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 5, 013102 (2009)

Eric Brewe, Laird Kramer, George O’Brien

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.


Asikainen Hirvonen - AJP 2009

A study of pre- and inservice physics teachers' understanding of photoelectric phenomenon as part of the development of a research-based quantum physics course

Am. J. Phys. 77, 658 (2009), DOI:10.1119/1.3129093
Mervi A. Asikainen and Pekka E. Hirvonen

We describe the development of a research-based quantum physics course for physics teachers. A case study approach is used to study the effect of the course on preservice and inservice teachers' understanding of the photoelectric effect. Results offer new insights into the learning of the photoelectric effect by providing a detailed description of the participant understanding. The learning outcomes achieved indicate that the instructional approach and the teaching–learning procedure used in the course can help preservice and inservice teachers attain an in-depth understanding of key quantum physics concepts.

Willoughby Metz - AJP 2009

Exploring gender differences with different gain calculations in astronomy and biology
Am. J. Phys. 77, 651 (2009), DOI:10.1119/1.3133087

Shannon D. Willoughby and Anneke Metz

To investigate differences in learning gains by gender, we collected data in large introductory astronomy and biology courses. Male astronomy students had significantly higher pre- and post-test scores than female students on the astronomy diagnostic test. Male students also had significantly higher pretest and somewhat higher post-test scores than female students on a survey instrument designed for an introductory biology course. For both courses, males had higher learning gains than female students only when the normalized gain measure was utilized. No differences were found with any other measures, including other gain calculations, overall course grades, or individual exams. Implications for using different learning gain measures in science classrooms, as well as for research on learning differences by gender are discussed.


Etkina Karelina Murthy Ruibal-Villasenor - PRST-PER 2009

Using action research to improve learning and formative assessment to conduct research
Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 5, 010109 (2009)

Eugenia Etkina, Anna Karelina, Sahana Murthy, and Maria Ruibal-Villasenor

The paper reports on how educational research informed and supported both the process of refinement of introductory physics laboratory instruction and student development of scientific abilities. In particular we focus on how the action research approach paradigm combined with instructional approaches such as scaffolding and formative assessment can be used to design the learning environment, investigate student learning, revise curriculum materials, and conduct subsequent assessment. As the result of the above efforts we found improvement in students’ scientific abilities over the course of three years. We suggest that the process used to improve the curriculum under study can be extended to many instructional innovations.


Kohlmyer et al. - arxiv.org 2009

A Tale of Two Curricula: The performance of two thousand students in introductory electromagnetism

Matthew A. Kohlmyer, Marcos D. Caballero, Richard Catrambone, Ruth W. Chabay, Lin Ding, Mark P. Haugan, M. Jackson Marr, Bruce A. Sherwood, Michael F. Schatz

The performance of over 2000 students in introductory calculus-based electromagnetism (E&M) courses at four large research universities was measured using the Brief Electricity and Magnetism Assessment (BEMA). Two different curricula were used at these universities: a traditional E&M curriculum and the Matter & Interactions (M&I) curriculum. At each university, post-instruction BEMA test averages were significantly higher for the M&I curriculum than for the traditional curriculum. The differences in post-test averages cannot be explained by differences in variables such as pre-instruction BEMA scores, grade point average, or SAT scores. BEMA performance on categories of items organized by subtopic was also compared at one of the universities; M&I averages were significantly higher in each topic. The results suggest that the M&I curriculum is more effective than the traditional curriculum at teaching E&M concepts to students, possibly because the learning progression in M&I reorganizes and augments the traditional sequence of topics, for example, by increasing early emphasis on the vector field concept and by emphasizing the effects of fields on matter at the microscopic level.

Rosengrant Heuvelen Etkina - PRST-PER 2009

Do students use and understand free-body diagrams?
Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 5, 010108 (2009)

David Rosengrant, Alan Van Heuvelen, and Eugenia Etkina

Physics education literature recommends using multiple representations to help students understand concepts and solve problems. However, there is little research concerning why students use the representations and whether those who use them are more successful. This study addresses these questions using free-body diagrams (diagrammatic representations used in problems involving forces) as a type of representation. We conducted a two-year quantitative and qualitative study of students’ use of free-body diagrams while solving physics problems. We found that when students are in a course that consistently emphasizes the use of free-body diagrams, the majority of them do use diagrams on their own to help solve exam problems even when they receive no credit for drawing the diagrams. We also found that students who draw diagrams correctly are significantly more successful in obtaining the right answer for the problem. Lastly, we interviewed students to uncover their reasons for using free-body diagrams. We found that high achieving students used the diagrams to help solve the problems and as a tool to evaluate their work while low achieving students only used representations as aids in the problem-solving process.


Kortemeyer - PRST-PER 2009

Gender differences in the use of an online homework system in an introductory physics course
Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 5, 010107 (2009)

Gerd Kortemeyer

The two genders make different use of being allowed multiple tries to solve online homework problems: male students frequently attempt to immediately solve the problem, while female students are more likely to first interact with peers and teaching assistants before entering answers. More male than female students state that they use the multiple allowed attempts to enter “random stuff,” while more female than male students state that the multiple attempts allow them to explore their own problem solving approaches without worrying or being stressed out by grades.


Kim Song - IJSE 2009

The Effects of Dichotomous Attitudes toward Science on Interest and Conceptual Understanding in Physics
International Journal of Science Education online first publication

Minkee Kim; Jinwoong Song

The literature on students' attitudinal constructs in science education asserts that students hold dichotomous attitudes toward science (AS). For instance, studies from the Relevance of Science Education project reveal that students possess negative attitudes in terms of their favourableness toward school science, preference toward scientific careers, and emotional states toward science (negative intrinsic AS), despite their positive perception that science is important for society (positive extrinsic AS). The issue demands in-depth examination, since not enough science educators have studied the effects of the dichotomous AS on science education. Rather, they have attempted to improve the uncategorised AS for stimulating student achievement in science education. Hence, the aim of this study is to clarify how the dichotomous attitude (intrinsic AS and extrinsic AS) relates to the two educational products in science: interest inventory and conceptual understanding. One hundred and sixteen physics learners in Japan were sampled for fitting the structural equation model in this study. Our final model validated by LISREL suggests that intrinsic AS exclusively stimulate students' interest and conceptual understanding in physics, while extrinsic AS fail to play their expected role. Finally, features of the sampled 10th-graders and their dichotomous AS are further interpreted with the prevalent concept of the hidden curriculum.


Espinoza - JSET 2009

Using Project-Based Data in Physics to Examine Television Viewing in Relation to Student Performance in Science
Journal of Science Education and Technology (online first publication)

Fernando Espinoza

Mass media, particularly television, influence public conceptions and attitudes toward learning science. The discovery of an original method that does not rely on self-reported viewing habits to measure the impact of television on students’ performance in science arose from a study of a unit on electricity in a Physics course. In determining the number of television sets at home and the number of hours of operation, data emerged that allowed an investigation of associations between each of these variables and student performance in physics. A negative impact on performance was found in its consistent decrease as both the number of sets and the time the sets are on increase. These results provide dramatic independent confirmation of the negative impact of television viewing on achievement determined through meta-analysis of many studies, and are also consistent with those in the literature at large, particularly from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Furthermore, the totally ‘blind’ participation of the subjects lends a degree of authenticity rarely found in a classically designed study. The findings impact scientific literacy, since performance in science and conceptions of science and scientists, are all inextricably linked.

Glauert - IJSE 2009

How Young Children Understand Electric Circuits: Prediction, explanation and exploration
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 31, Issue 8 May 2009 , pages 1025 - 1047

Esme Bridget Glauert

This paper reports findings from a study of young children's views about electric circuits. Twenty-eight children aged 5 and 6 years were interviewed. They were shown examples of circuits and asked to predict whether they would work and explain why. They were then invited to try out some of the circuit examples or make circuits of their own choosing. Children expressed a variety of views about the connections needed in a circuit, offered different kinds of explanation and showed differing levels of competence in circuit making. The range of responses showed similarities to those of older students found in previous research. The relationship between practical competence, prediction, and explanation was not straightforward. For example, children with similar levels of practical competence made different predictions or offered different kinds of explanation. Analysis of the circuits children chose to construct suggested influences of existing competence and knowledge. In particular, some children tested out circuit examples about which they had been unsure during the interview, while others explored circuit connections more generally. Findings underline the importance of drawing on a variety of evidence in assessing young children's understandings of electric circuits. They indicate that young children may offer views about electric circuits not unlike those of older children and adults with similar experience. Finally, there was some suggestion that the interview procedure may have acted as an instructive stimulus in helping children to become more conscious of their own views and reflect on their thinking in the light of further evidence.

Ozdemir - IJSE 2009

Avoidance from Thought Experiments: Fear of misconception
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 31, Issue 8 May 2009 , pages 1049 - 1068

Omer Faruk Ozdemir

Two independent lines of research—mental simulations and thought experiments—provide strong arguments about the importance of perceptual modalities for the instructional practices in science education. By situating the use of mental simulations in the framework of thought experiments, this study investigated the nature and the role of mental simulations in the context of problem-solving. This study draws on data collected through problem-solving sessions with five physics graduates. Throughout the problem-solving sessions, think-aloud and retrospective questioning were used. Results from this study support some serious concerns put forward by several researchers in the community of science educators about high dependence on descriptive forms of scientific knowledge and exclusion of perceptual modalities from instructional practices. The participants' verbal reports confirmed that they had implicitly or explicitly reached a conclusion that mental simulations were not a legitimate way of reasoning about physics problems, and they consciously avoided the use of mental simulations. This conceptualization seemed to lead participants to compartmentalize mental simulations from formal physics knowledge. Therefore, mental simulations were not refined but kept in a primitive form, which was no more than a retrieval of perceptual representations constructed through observations and experiences of the world. The speculations on the results of the study were based on the interpretations of learning science in terms of the refinement and reorganizations of preinstructional ideas.


Reviews in PER - Volume 2 (Getting Started)

Getting Started in Physics Education Research

Foreword (direct link)
Charles Henderson and Kathleen A. Harper
We welcome comments about this issue, as well as suggestions for topics to be addressed by future issues.

An Introduction to Physics Education Research (direct link)
Robert Beichner
This article aims to introduce the reader to the field of Physics Education Research (PER).

An Introduction to Classical Test Theory as Applied to Conceptual Multiple-choice Tests (direct link)
Paula V. Engelhardt
The purpose of this paper is to provide the reader with a general overview of the key aspects of the development process from the perspective of classical test theory and critical issues that distinguish high-quality conceptual multiple-choice tests from those that are not.

Additional articles are planned, and this post will be updated.


Beatty Feldman - NARST 2009

Illuminating teacher change and professional development with CHAT
In the Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), Garden Grove CA, Apr 20.

Beatty, Ian D. and Feldman, Allan

Technology-Enhanced Formative Assessment (TEFA) is an innovative pedagogy for science and mathematics instruction. Teacher Learning of TEFA is a research project studying teacher change as in-service secondary science and mathematics teachers learn TEFA in the context of a multi-year professional development (PD) program. Applying cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) to the linked activity systems of PD and teachers’ classroom practice leads to a model of teacher learning and pedagogical change in which TEFA is first introduced into classrooms as an object of activity, and then made useful as a tool for instruction, and then—in rare cases—incorporated into all elements of a deeply transformed practice. Different levels of contradiction within and between activity systems drive the transitions between stages. CHAT analysis also suggests that the primary contradiction within secondary education is a dual view of students as objects of instruction versus students as willful individuals; the difficulties arising from this contradiction can either inhibit or motivate TEFA adoption.