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Department Library

2021

Carsen Lindorff (Capstone, April 2021, Advisor: Nathan Powers )

Abstract

Physics Education literature suggests that teaching physics undergraduates basic business skills and concepts likely increases job preparedness for nonacademic careers, the professional path pursued by most physics majors. In this study, we use a methodology rooted in finding connections between physics practices and business skills, adjusting traditional curriculum instead of replacing it, and minimizing extra workload on students to incorporate the teaching of basic business skills to physics majors within a 3rd-year lab class. The effects of the modifications were assessed and indicate an increase in confidence among students in applying several skills that were covered. The modifications also appear to have garnered faculty support in some areas. Our results suggest a framework for future implementation of basic business skills aimed at nonacademic career preparedness in physics labs.

2020

Jessica Martin (Capstone, August 2020, Advisor: Nathan Powers )

Abstract

Following current physics education recommendations, the undergraduate physics labs at Brigham Young University are undergoing a shift in focus from conceptually-based to experimentally-based practices, which requires lab assistants to undergo a similar shift in attitude in order to perform at the higher level now asked of them. To assist with this change, we present a method involving new training techniques and attitude assessments based upon the three fundamental factors of attitudes—affect, behavior, and cognition—that identify attitude strength and weakness and pinpoint the underlying causes in a group of lab assistants. With the improved understanding of attitude causes from the data, faculty can target current training practices in real time to help solidify weak attitudes, as well as track attitude development over time. In our case study, we use the proposed method to successfully identify areas of attitude weakness and strength, their causes, and propose improvements for future targeted training meetings within a group of 20 lab assistants. We also propose a more comprehensive longitudinal future study to track attitude shifts over time.

2017

Konrie Angel (Capstone, May 2017, Advisor: Nathan Powers )

Abstract

Physics 108 is a one-credit hour, non-majors physics lab course centered on investigating topics related to electricity, magnetism, and optics. My research involved the addition of model building and observation to the circuits lab. Modeling as defined by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) "entails developing an abstract representation of a real system.” The goal is to use models to teach students how to construct knowledge of circuits. We wrote the lab so that the students would have opportunities to make predictions, measure the voltage and current in various circuits, and evaluate what was happening within the circuit. We included multiple models of both voltage and current to allow students to confront topics that are commonly misunderstood. Through observation, quizzes, and surveys, we were able to find that many students struggle to build circuits from a schematic and measure current. One solution would be to include information about how multi-meters work in the pre-reading. Another solution is to include more questions that will cause students to self-evaluate to discover their mistakes and find the answer. Further research is necessary to better evaluate the growth in student understanding after performing the circuits lab. This can be done with observations of every section's misconceptions and notebook checks to read student predictions and conclusions to assess critical thinking. Standardized pre and post lab quizzes would help pinpoint where growth and misconceptions occurred.