Gire Jones Price - PRST-PER 2009

Characterizing the epistemological development of physics majors
Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 5, 010103 (2009)
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.5.010103

Elizabeth Gire, Barbara Jones, Ed Price

Students in introductory physics courses are likely to have views about physics that differ from those of experts. However, students who continue to study physics eventually become experts themselves. Presumably these students either possess or develop more expertlike views. To investigate this process, the views of introductory physics students majoring in physics are compared with the views of introductory physics students majoring in engineering. In addition, the views of physics majors are assessed at various stages of degree progress. The Colorado learning attitudes about science survey is used to evaluate students’ views about physics, and students’ overall survey scores and responses to individual survey items are analyzed. Beginning physics majors are significantly more expertlike than nonmajors in introductory physics courses, and this high level of sophistication is consistent for most of undergraduate study.