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Tormented some students today

September 9, 2011

I didn’t mean to frighten them…Honest.

Today I gave the Force Concept Inventory to all of my classes. I stressed that it didn’t effect their grades, that it was to give me a picture of what they thought about the world and so that we could all notice how much we learn over the course of the year. Positive stuff. I’m not sure they were entirely convinced.

I’m anxious to dig into the data. Off hand I noticed that nearly everyone put down the same wrong answer for the last question. I think it’ll be helpful for me throughout the year to be able to look back and see the common misconceptions that I will be trying to dispel.

I’ll also get a touch of data on how I did last year, my AP Physics students all had me last year for physics, in theory they’ll outperform the rank newbies due to my awesome teaching last year.

Morning Update
I ran the data and popped it into a simple histogram. Dear Excel, why oh why do you not have a slick histogram function?! Dear WordPressers, how can I insert an Excel chart into a post, or should I just drop it on Scribd and link accordingly?

My Physics class averaged 6.8 out of 30 and my AP Physics class averaged 17.8 out of 30. AP Physics is full of students who took physics or honors physics from me last year, so their 9 month rusty mechanics education bought them an average of 37% of the available improvement. Next week I’m going to expand the survey to cover as many kids who took physics at my school last year as I can. That’ll involve lots of pizza bribery.

I feel pretty ok about these results. Eric Mazur reports 23% or so as the average gain for traditional instruction. I’m looking forward to seeing if or how these trends change as I modify my practices this year. Smells like science.

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