Assessment at PhysTEC Sites
Ball State University
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Florida International University
Seattle Pacific University
University of Arizona
University of Arkansas
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Western Michigan University
The physics education community has long recognized the need for valid and reliable assessments of content in physics courses, and education researchers have developed numerous assessments with the intent of measuring student learning. These conceptual surveys, available at several websites including North Carolina State University and University of Maryland, have done much to awaken the physics community to the understanding that while traditional didactic instruction may train students to produce correct solutions to seemingly complex problems, such instruction often does little to alter students' fundamental conceptual thinking. In order to determine to what extent efforts of the PhysTEC project have resulted in improvements in student learning, the project has asked all its sites to give students standardized content assessments in introductory courses. Results show student learning gains very similar to those reported by Hake for courses taught with “interactive engagement” methods.
PhysTEC has also undertaken a more comprehensive assessment effort, in order to fully evaluate its impact both on classroom teachers and on institutions around the country. Current project assessment initiatives include studies of
In addition to project-wide summative assessment, PhysTEC recognizes the importance of formative assessment, in particular as it relates to a teacher’s education. Both content and pedagogy assessment instruments can and should be used to show areas in which pre-service and beginning teachers are strong, and areas in which they need to improve. Formative assessment is an especially powerful tool in the context of a mentoring relationship.