red Supported Site Cornell University: Assessment

Physics 1112: A calculus-based introduction to mechanics targeted at engineering majors and at physics majors with non-AP high school physics and calculus preparation.

FCI Results for Physics 1112
Semester N Pre-Test Average Post-Test Average Normalized Gain Standard Error
Fall 2007 42 0.673 0.809 0.361 0.096
Spring 2008 119 0.619 0.769 0.367 0.034
Fall 2008 120 0.646 0.809 0.473 0.032
Spring 2009 114 0.654 0.738 0.134 0.107

 

EBAPS Results for Physics 1112
Semester N Pre-Test
Average
Post-Test Average Normalized Gain Standard Error
Spring 2009 49 0.686 0.698 -0.032 0.052
  • Physics 1112 enrollment in the fall semester is typically half that in the spring semester. Students who enroll in the fall (as first-semester freshman) on average have better preparation than those in the spring semester.
  • Undergraduate teaching assistants (UTA) were used (in cooperative learning recitation sections) for the first time in the Spring 08 semester of Physics 1112. UTAs were used again in both the Fall 08 and Spring 09 semesters.
  • This course has used polling/peer instruction and cooperative learning sessions/tutorials for the last 15 years.
  • The EBAPS is an attitude survey that attempts to determine how students think about knowledge in the physical sciences. Do they think claims are simply true or false, right or wrong, or do they understand that claims are well or less well supported. Do they understand that individual pieces of content fit together into a coherent whole, so to solve problems we need to understand the deeper structure.

Physics 1116: A calculus-based introduction to mechanics and special relativity for honors physics majors.

FCI Results for Physics 1116
Semester N Pre-Test
Average
Post-Test Average Normalized Gain Standard Error
Fall 2007 40 0.855 0.863 -0.040 0.158
Fall 2008 41 0.859 0.905 0.237 0.090
Spring 2009 11 0.928 0.967 0.763 0.154
  • The extremely high pre-test scores in this course suggest that the FMCE would be a more appropriate instrument to measure learning gains in future semesters.
  • This course uses polling/peer instruction. There have been no reforms conducted in this course during the PhysTEC program to date.

Physics 2207: A calculus-based introduction to mechanics and heat for life, chemical, earth and atmospheric science majors and pre-medical/pre-veterinary students. This course may also be taken by biomedical engineering students.

FCI Results for Physics 2207
Semester N Pre-Test Average Post-Test Average Normalized Gain Standard Error
Fall 2007 142 0.442 0.682 0.436 0.025
Fall 2008 244 0.475 0.693 0.419 0.021
  • Undergraduate learning assistants were used for the first time in the Fall 08 semester of Physics 2207. This is already a reformed course, having used polling, peer instruction and cooperative learning for over 15 years. The course also includes extensive real-world applications of physics.

Physics 102: An algebra-based introduction to electricity, magnetism, optics and modern physics targeted at the same clientele as Physics 2207-2208.

CSEM Results for Physics 102
Semester N Pre-Test Average Post-Test Average Normalized Gain Standard Error
Spring 2009 17 0.355 0.507 0.248 0.057
  • There were no reforms conducted in this course during the spring semester. This course was the first autotutorial physics course in the US. Students work through interactive demonstrations on their own, watch video lectures, solve problems on paper and via online tutorials, and obtain one-on-one tutoring with course staff before taking unit tests.

Physics 2208: A calculus-based introduction to electricity, magnetism, optics and modern physics targeted at life, chemical, earth and atmospheric science majors and pre-medical/pre-veterinary students. This course may also be taken by biomedical engineering students.

CSEM Results for Physics 2208
Semester N Pre-Test Average Post-Test Average Normalized Gain Standard Error
Spring 2009 41 0.424 0.590 0.292 0.055
  • Undergraduate learning assistants were used for the first time in the Spring 09 semester.
  • This is already a reformed course, having used polling, peer instruction and cooperative learning for over 15 years. The course also includes extensive real-world applications of physics.

Physics 2213: A calculus-based introduction to electricity, magnetism and thermodynamics targeted at engineering majors and non-honors physics majors.

CSEM Results for Physics 2213
Semester N Pre-Test Average Post-Test Average Normalized Gain Standard Error
Spring 2008 159 0.414 0.590 0.310 0.018
Spring 2009 48 0.536 0.674 0.318 0.050
  • This course uses polling/peer instruction and cooperative learning sessions. There were no reforms conducted in this course during the spring semester.

Physics 2217: A calculus-based introduction to electromagnetism targeted for honors physics majors.

CSEM Results for Physics 2217
Semester N Pre-Test Average Post-Test Average Normalized Gain Standard Error
Spring 2009 24 0.689 0.814 0.433 0.098
  • There were no reforms conducted in this traditionally-taught course during the spring semester.

Content Assessment Methods

We switched from paper-based testing to online testing in the Spring 09 semester. Data from previous semesters was collected via paper tests given in recitation section.

  • The logistics of distributing (to roughly 30 TAs), collecting, correcting (e.g., student mistakes in entering course numbers and id numbers), scanning and analyzing 1200 paper tests per term was prohibitive, an inefficient use of staff time, and not sustainable in the long term.
  • Instructors were understandably reluctant to give up 2 recitations for the testing, especially the post-testing recitation at the end of the term.
  • Online testing greatly simplified the logistics, and allowed us to expand our testing to more courses. However, an administrative error in Spring 2009 related to human testing guidelines, in which students were told the tests were optional, resulted in roughly half as many respondents as in previous semesters. Many of these suffered from fatigue and did not fully complete the tests.
  • We plan to request that faculty give course credit for completing the tests to obtain a better return rate.