Evaluating the Effectiveness of Active Learning in Introductory Physics
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The study and understanding of physics is important in today’s society because it promotes the ability of learners to problem solve and think critically about the world around them, but physics educators who use traditional teaching methods often struggle to help students learn and appreciate the subject (Meltzer & Manivannan, 2002). Research indicates that there are better ways to help students learn than in a traditional lecture. Learning gains can be much more significant when students are actively engaged in the material and have the opportunity to receive meaningful feedback from instructors (Hake R. R., 1997). Some techniques utilized by science educators to encourage active learning include the use of simulations of scientific phenomena, hands-on activities like small labs or demonstrations, and cooperative problem solving and discussion in class (Hake R. R., 1998). For this project, these techniques were implemented in an introductory college physics class in the form of a hybrid flipped classroom. The effectiveness of the methods used in the process were analyzed by comparing the test scores of students in the flipped classroom with the test scores of students from previous years in which a traditional lecture format was used. Findings suggest that, on average, the methods used for this project did not significantly alter students’ test scores, although more students than usual did receive very high scores. Suggestions are made to improve the outcome of flipped classroom methods in the future.