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Walsh SoTLGrant 2012-13: Jeff Phillips

Jeff Phillips, Physics

Training Self-Assessment and Task Selection Skills in General Physics


In this project I will investigate the relationship between students’ self-assessments of their proficiency, selection of practice problems and their performance on physics content pre- and post-instruction measures. There has been prior research on students who were subjected to learner-controlled instruction that showed that most students did a poor job of correctly assessing their progress and selecting appropriate practice tasks. However, students who do receive instruction on these skills,including in the form of examples or models, do show improvement. In my Fall 2012 Physics 253 course, I will introduce instruction on how to self-assess ones progress and how to code problems for content and complexity. Students will be asked to then perform this self-assessment throughout the semester. I am interested in looking for improvements in the students’ self-assessment as well as correlations with their performance on physics content measures (research-based content inventories and in-class tests.) If successful in assessing their own progress and selecting appropriate practice problems, students will have demonstrated that they are capable of self-regulated or independent learning.

Final Report Abstract

Students who successfully engage in self-regulate learning, are able to plan their own studying, monitoring their progress and make any necessary adjustments based upon the data and feedback they gather.  In order to promote this type of independent learning in students, and create a course structure where individuals are able to get the personalized practice that they need, a recent General Physics course was modified to employ features found in learner-controlled instruction courses.  In the course, students were able to choose many of their own out-of-class learning activities.  Rather than collecting daily or weekly problem set solutions, assignments were mostly progress reports where students reported which activities they had attempted, self-assessment of their progress and plans for their next study session.  While some students utilized this format to its fullest, many others simply exploited the flexibility to do minimal out-of-class practice.  The weekly reports and pre-/ post-instruction surveys captured students’ views of homework, which was predominately seen as a task to be completed, not one from which they could learn.  One student’s reports did show deeper reflection and describe how the reports, and the learner controlled design, changed his views of learning and study habits.


Final Report