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Title:Assessing the development & implementation of a student-centered, "flipped" secondary physics curriculum in which IO-Lab digital sensors are issued to students on a 1-to-1 basis
Author(s):Cunnings, Christopher Paul
Director of Research:Brown, David E.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Brown, David E.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Selen, Mats A.; Osborne, Margery D; Lindgren, Robb W
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
Abstract:This teacher-driven, action research dissertation study chronicles the development and implementation of a transformative, two-pronged, student-centered secondary physics education curriculum. From an instructional perspective, the curriculum was situated in the "flipped classroom" teaching approach, which minimizes in-class lecturing and instead predicates classroom learning on collaborative, hands-on, and activity-based lessons. Additionally, all students were issued IO-Lab digital sensors—learning tools developed by professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign capable of collecting a vast array of real-time physical data— on a 1-to-1, 24/7 basis for both in-class and at-home use. In-class, students participated in predominantly activity-based learning, with a sizeable portion of in-class activities incorporating IO-Labs for experimental data collection. Outside of class, students designed real-world research projects using their IO-Labs to study the physics underlying their everyday experiences, and all projects were video recorded, uploaded to YouTube, and then watched in-class to simulate a "mock science conference" in which students provided constructive feedback to each other on their experimental methods and results. The synergistic blending of a) flipped physics instruction, and b) perpetual access to state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, the two prongs forming the basis of this research study, inspired the curriculum title "Flipped IO-Lab," or "F-IO" curriculum. This dissertation study will provide a comprehensive assessment of the benefits and challenges that emerged while designing and implementing the F-IO curriculum from a practitioner’s perspective. The assessment of the F-IO curriculum came about through a mixed-methods research methodology during kinematics and dynamics instruction. Specifically, this study includes "Force Concept Inventory" (FCI) pretest/posttest analysis to gauge changes in students' conceptual understanding of physics, as well as "Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey" (CLASS) pre/post data to monitor students' shifts in scientific attitudes throughout the study. The aforementioned pre/post data will be triangulated with field notes and web-based "course opinion survey questions" to provide a comprehensive view of the F-IO curriculum. Significant analysis of the development of the course, as well as the relevant benefits, challenges, and considerations for "flipping" physics instruction, is also contained in this dissertation. The results of the research study include an FCI normalized gain of 0.74 (a "high gain" course), which indicates significant improvement in students’ conceptual understanding of Newtonian Mechanics. Additionally, CLASS results indicate significant shifts in student attitudes from generally novice initial scientific perspectives to predominantly expert scientific perspectives by the conclusion of the research study. Of particular interest was students' acknowledgement and appreciation of the real-world implications of what they learned in physics class, as evidenced by CLASS survey data, real-world video challenge projects, and student comments before, during, and after class sessions. However, even despite all of the positive results that emerged throughout the study, a variety of challenges and concerns also materialized with regards to the utilization of F-IO curriculum principles, with the most pronounced being a subset of students whom remained unwilling to embrace web-based and/or flipped instructional teaching methods, preferring instead a more traditional instructional approach. The results and implications of this research study may not only be of interest to physics instructors, but also STEM educators, secondary curriculum designers, digital learning tool designers and researchers, and educational researchers.
Issue Date:2016-04-04
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Christopher P. Cunnings
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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