Chronology Current Month Current Thread Current Date
[Year List] [Month List (current year)] [Date Index] [Thread Index] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Prev] [Date Next]

[Phys-L] Re: Goals of the Introductory Course

Why not give the FCI just before they graduate and look to see if the gains
are permanent. This was done and gains from a research based approach were
permanent up to 3 years later.

As far as SETS (Student evaluations of Teachers) go, Hake is fond of
reporting some relevant studies. Essentially when you research the student
opinions vs the expected grade, the grade seems to be one of the most
important factors in the evaluation. If the evaluation is repeated after
the grade is issues the evaluation can flip flop when the grade is not what
they thought it would be.

I have a very good example of this. My son signed up for a physics course.
The instructor got good ratings, and was known to give very high grades. He
found out the truth on the first day. Even when sitting in the front row he
could not understand a word the foreign born instructor said. Neither could
his classmates understand him. He just did problems out of the book.
Unfortunately at that point his schedule precluded changing instructors, so
he dropped the course. Grade inflation is a very easy way to earn higher

It is actually not just a matter of maturity. Students expect the familiar
routine. Many do not understand what real learning is about. This is
actually true of many teachers. Many students are goal oriented in the
sense that they are aiming to get a "good" job which pays well. They see
the grade as a necessary obstacle to getting this job. The problem with
inadequate training for the job seldom enters into this equation. Indeed
poor physics education actually seldom enters into the ability to do a
particular job for most students after graduation. They rightly perceive
physics as just a filter to remove the unworthy. Essentially this is the
current analog to the traditional Ivy League "gentleman's C". Lets fact it.
The "traditional" physics course probably does nothing to improve the
quality of an MD or other healh professionals. It also has limited effect
on most other professions with the exception of physicist and engineer.

John M. Clement
Houston, TX

Do students have the maturity to correctly assess the ability of Physics
instructors (beyond gauging their personality, etc.)?

I suggest students be give the surveys five years after they graduate.



What good assessment problems have to avoid is
| being structured exactly like example problems in the
| books--such that memorized algorithms can be used to solve
| them. This takes some effort, but it is not all that
| difficult. Now how well students fare with such questions.......;-(
| Rick

And these are exactly the kinds of problems that tend to earn you low
marks in student opinion surveys

Phys-L mailing list