Why Do Good Students Fail Introductory Physics?
AAPT Summer Meeting: Syracuse, NY
Physics 100 is an 8 week preparatory course for students who are under-prepared to enter directly into the calculus based mechanics course, Physics 211. This fall (2005) we administered a math diagnostic in Physics 100 and found a strong correlation between the results and the final exam, which is consistent with earlier findings. This spring (2006) we are following former Physics 100 students through Physics 211. We use data from logs of their online activities, their selections on 4 multiple-choice exams, and selected student interviews to track the students through the course. We recruited 10 former Physics 100 students with a variety of mathematical skill levels for interviews throughout the semester. In each interview we asked the students talk aloud as they solved problems from old exams. We chose problems which showed large differences between B and D students. We will discuss our findings and directions for future work.