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Title:Tools for underprepared students in engineering physics with a focus on online mastery learning exercises
Author(s):Gutmann, Brianne
Director of Research:Stelzer, Tim
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Gladding, Gary
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Gollin, George; D'Angelo, Cynthia
Department / Program:Physics
Discipline:Physics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):mastery
physics education
physics education research
values affirmation
frequent testing
online homework
Abstract:For students entering college with very little or poor physics background, the transition into fast-paced calculus based physics courses at a large university can be demanding; this thesis documents tools used in a preparatory course which is intended to ease that transition by teaching fundamental skills and problem solving. Within the preparatory course, we implemented online mastery-style homework, introduced frequent testing with retakes, and applied a values affirmation intervention intended to quell stereotype threat. In the initial implementation of our mastery-style exercises, which were successful in two clinical trials, mastery was less successful in the course due to high levels of student frustration. Adjustments to the delivery and content with student affect in mind were able to mitigate frustration and increase students’ productive behaviors and performance. On mastery activities which were particularly difficult or calculation-heavy, increasing the amount of scaffolding and breaking up content into smaller, more focused pieces were strategies that helped students master content. Frequent testing improved midterm scores, but the effects were diminishing with the number of tests. The values affirmation activity, which was given to the preparatory course and a more mature physics course, had little effect on students’ performance despite its success documented elsewhere. Reflection on these tools’ success has highlighted the importance of considering student affect and the sensitivity of their effectiveness to students’ sense of agency and to the tools’ specific implementation.
Issue Date:2019-07-02
Type:Text
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/105623
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Brianne Gutmann
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-11-26
Date Deposited:2019-08


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