Jessica Martin (Capstone, August 2020,
Advisor: Nathan Powers
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.
Konrie Angel (Capstone, May 2017,
Advisor: Nathan Powers
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.