Analysis of the Impact, Course Alignment, & Potential Improvement of Introductory Physics
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Introductory Physics (IP) forms part of the foundational knowledge necessary to success in an undergraduate engineering degree. Here, the impact of IP is studied to address three research questions: 1) What is the correlation of performance in IP with institutionally relevant metrics? 2) How well is IP course content aligned with subsequent engineering coursework? and 3) Does a new online supplemental resource improve student learning in the IP sequence? Impact of a student’s IP Mechanics grade on the metrics of subsequent academic performance, retention, and matriculation rate is analyzed using two decades of academic records of engineering students at Texas A&M University (TAMU). Correlations are quantified using the Spearman Correlation Coefficient, with separate analyses performed for three versions, called flavors, of IP Mechanics available to TAMU students. Alignment of content between courses is examined using a set of q-matrices developed for three flavors of IP Mechanics and two subsequent engineering courses. The strength of alignment between each flavor of IP Mechanics with each course is examined for the courses as a whole, along with specific physical concepts and mathematical skills. The procedure employed here may be an effective evaluative tool for service based courses to ensure adequate coverage of material for client departments. Supported by a grant from TAMU Provost’s Office and Instructional Technology Services, a new online supplemental resource was created for the IP sequence titled Freshman Physics Classroom (FPC). Development and results from the first deployment of this resource will be discussed, including quantitative analysis of exam scores and conceptual assessments along with qualitative analysis from student surveys. Initial results show positive results from use of the resource and high student approval.
Perry, Jonathan Drew (2018). Analysis of the Impact, Course Alignment, & Potential Improvement of Introductory Physics. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from