Review of performance: SC 130 Physical science summer 2010. 28 students enrolled in course. Submitted by Dana Lee Ling

n | SLO | Program SLOs | I, D, M | Reflection/comment | |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

1 | Explore physical science systems using scientific methodologies |
Define and explain the concepts, principles, and theories of a field of science. |
D | 25 | of 28 students were successful on this SLO |

2 | Generate mathematical models for physical science systems | D | 25 | ||

3 | Write up the results of experiments in a formal format using spreadsheet and word processing software | D | 25 | ||

4 | Explore dynamics of motion including performing calculations of velocity, acceleration, momentum, and kinetic energy, generating appropriate mathematical models, making calculations of the conservation of momentum and energy | Perform experiments that gather scientific information and to utilize, interpret, and explain the results of experiments and field work in a field of science | D | 28 | |

5 | Experiment with and determine the heat and electrical conductivity of materials | D | 27 | ||

6 | Determine latitude, longitude, and find the mathematical relationship between metric and degrees systems of measure; determine universal time | D | 25 | ||

7 | Observe and identify clouds, be able to describe precipitation processes in Micronesia such as collision-coalescence, Bergeron, and orographic precipitation; list the phenomenon associated with El Niño and La Niña | D | 26 | ||

8 | Determine the speed of sound and perform experiments with sound | D | 27 | ||

9 | Explore reflection and refraction, determining the mathematical relationships for reflected image depths, angles, and refracted image angles | D | 27 | ||

10 | List the primary and secondary colors of light, generate other colors from primary colors, explore systems of specifying colors | D | 27 | ||

11 | Develop a mathematical model using measurements of current versus voltage across a resistance; determine and sketch open, short, and closed circuits | D | 27 | ||

12 | Determine whether substances are acids or bases using locally available pH indicator solutions | D | 23 |

For the first three outcomes, student counts based on number who passed the class. For subsequent outcomes, student counts based on attendance for the laboratory for that outcome.

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Some files linked from this assessment grid use XHTML+ MathMl + SVG and
require the use of browsers such as FireFox which can render these technologies.
Sample laboratory reports are in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format.
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The relevant program learning outcomes are from the general education core.

- Define and explain the concepts, principles, and theories of a field of science.
- Perform experiments that gather scientific information and to utilize, interpret, and explain the results of experiments and field work in a field of science

Learning themes cut across all activities and explorations in the course. These learning themes are the first three items on the course outline. The first theme centers the course on exploration and science as a process as expressed by the scientific method.

The second theme places mathematics at the core of the course. Many of the laboratories lead to linear relationships, linear regressions, with the attendant concepts of slope and intercept.

The third theme brings writing across the curriculum into the course. In addition to being marked for content, the laboratories are marked for grammar, syntax, vocabulary, spelling, format, cohesion, and organization.

The laboratories and the laboratory reports are the primary evidence that students explored physical science systems using scientific methodologies, that they generated mathematical models, and that they communicated their results.

Students will be able to...

Learning Themes | ||
---|---|---|

Outcome | Materials | Sample Evidence |

Explore physical science systems using scientific methodologies | Syllabus |
Laboratory reports from laboratory 14 final practical laboratory.
Students were given only the question "Determine the index of refraction of the glass" and no further information. Sample reports are from spring 2010. Summer reports were not submitted electronically. Originals are on file with instructor. EY • NP |

Generate mathematical models for physical science systems | Math relations | |

Write up the results of experiments in a formal format using spreadsheet and word processing software | Generic rubric |

Specific learning is centered on the laboratory experiences. Laboratory reports cited above are considered a primary measure of student performance in the course. Through the weekly laboratory reports, the course integrates writing into the core of the course curriculum. During the summer the number of laboratories that were written and submitted was reduced. See the syllabus for details.

Documenting actual activity during the laboratories is difficult. The laboratories are intended and designed to engender cooperative learning in scientific teams of exploration. One of the design intents is that the acquisition of scientific knowledge is a journey, not a destination. Science is not about a set of accumulated and memorized facts. Science is a process of discovery, careful thought and analysis. Science is about finding and testing explanations for systems, in physical science those explanations are typically mathematical models.

Tests can document acquired facts. Documenting the journey, as opposed to the acquired facts, is difficult. The table further below uses links to photo documentation as indirect evidence of science as an exploration.

The final includes single numeric problems typifying that area of study. Each final utilized a spreadsheet to randomly generate data values. A mail merge was used to produce individually unique final examinations for each and every student. The merge also generated an answer sheet for each student final, these were separated from the final and used to mark each unique exam paper.

The results of an item analysis for the spring 2008, fall 2008, spring 2009, fall 2009, spring 2010, and summer 2010 final are in the table further below. The item analysis is the percent of students answering the question in that area correctly. Note that the final given during summer 2010 differed substantively from any previous final. Further details on the summer results are given later in this report.

Specific Learning | Final item analysis | |||||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

Outcomes | Laboratory | Photo documentation | Sp 2008 n = 29 |
Fall 2008 n = 28 |
Sp 2009 n = 31 |
Fall 2009 n = 32 |
Sp 2010 n = 29 |
Su 2010 n = 28 |

Explore dynamics of motion including performing calculations of velocity, acceleration, momentum, and kinetic energy, generating appropriate mathematical models such as linear regressions, making calculations of the conservation of momentum and energy | Linear | Rolling balls | 0.62 | 0.89 | 0.61 | 0.56 | 0.93 | 0.93 |

Acceleration | Falling balls | 0.62 | 0.39 | 0.45 | 0.03 | 0.14 | 0.54 | |

Momentum | Marbles | 0.59 | 0.57 | 0.48 | 0.31 | 0.62 | 0.89 | |

Force | Hooke's Law | 0.86 | 0.69 | |||||

Experiment with and determine the heat and electrical conductivity of materials | Heat | Conduction | 0.90 | 0.86 | 0.81 | 0.91 | 0.90 | 0.46 |

Determine latitude, longitude, and find the mathematical relationship with standard linear measures; determine universal time | Lat Long | Lat Long | 0.17 | 0.36 | 0.23 | 0.75 | 0.83 | 0.50 |

Observe and identify clouds, be able to describe precipitation processes in Micronesia such as collision-coalescence, Bergeron, and orographic precipitation; list the phenomenon associated with El Niño and La Niña | Clouds | Cloud formation and shape | 0.48 | 0.79 | 0.61 | 0.22 | 0.48 | 0.63 |

Determine the speed of sound and perform experiments with sound | Sound | Waves & Echoes | 0.21 | 0.14 | 0.48 | 0.22 | 0.45 | 0.55 |

Explore reflection and refraction, determining the mathematical relationships for reflected image depths, angles, and refracted image angles | Optics | Optics | 0.72 | 0.36 | 0.65 | 0.53 | 0.80 | 0.89 |

Explore the nature of color, observe spectra using a CD spectroscope. New activity summer 2010. | Colors of light | Spectra | 0.34 | 0.36 | 0.29 | 0.61 | 0.28 | 0.95 |

Develop a mathematical model using measurements of current versus voltage across a resistance; determine and sketch open, short, and closed circuits | Electricity | Circuits | 0.72 | 0.64 | 0.71 | 0.50 | 0.59 | 0.43 |

Determine whether substances are acids or bases using locally available pH indicator solutions | Chemistry | Acids and bases | 0.52 | 0.86 | 0.61 | 0.72 | 0.66 | 0.93 |

Average: | 0.54 | 0.57 | 0.55 | 0.49 | 0.65 | 0.68 |

*Photo documentation for the above and other activities*

The core of the course are the activities and laboratories. The laboratories involve a write-up using spreadsheet and word processing software. The laboratories are marked using a rubric. The course focuses on physical science as a process and method, an exploration in search of mathematical models of system behavior.

The final examination is not a well aligned measure of process, method, and exploration. The final examination summer 2010 was a collection of fifty questions culled from tests given during the summer term. Twenty-three questions were one point, single word short answer questions. Three questions were two points due to being comprised of two terms recalled from memory. The remaining 24 questions required using physics formulas to calculate an answer. A formula sheet was provided separately. That the average success rate on the three point questions was only 63% suggests that even when not required to memorize formulas, the students still performed poorly on these problems.

The following analysis reports the percentage answering questions in a topic area correctly, with results reported separately for one point, two point, and three point questions. Note that the actual final examination consisted of fifty questions, this table reports aggregate averages based on all questions for a given laboratory topic.

Point value | Overall | ||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|

Core laboratory topic | one | two | three | Avg | |

1 | Linear volume versus mass (density) | 0.67 | 0.73 | 0.69 | |

2 | Linear time versus distance (velocity) | 0.93 | 0.93 | ||

3 | Quadratic time versus distance (acceleration) | 0.54 | 0.54 | ||

4 | Conservation of momentum | 0.89 | 0.89 | ||

5 | Linear distance versus force (Hooke's law) | 0.69 | 0.69 | ||

6 | Heat conduction | 0.46 | 0.46 | ||

7 | Meters per minute of latitude | 0.5 | 0.5 | ||

8 | Observation of clouds (weather) | 0.63 | 0.63 | ||

9 | Waveslength, frequency, period, speed of sound via echoes | 0.55 | 0.55 | ||

10 | Linear image versus object depth (refractive index) | 0.61 | 0.61 | ||

11 | Color and spectra | 0.95 | 0.95 | ||

12 | Linear current versus voltage (Ohm's law) | 0.43 | 0.43 | ||

13 | Detection of acids and bases using floral litmus | 0.93 | 0.93 | ||

15 | Site swap notation | 0.16 | 0.16 | ||

C | Cosmology | 0.41 | 0.41 | ||

E | Earth science | 0.43 | 0.43 | ||

Line | Draw a best fit line | 1.00 | 1.00 | ||

Plot | Plot (x, y) coordinates | 1.00 | 1.00 | ||

Slope | Calculate slope from a graph | 0.89 | 0.89 | ||

Δ% | Calculate percentage change | 0.68 | 0.68 | ||

Overall averages | 0.78 | 0.42 | 0.63 | 0.68 |

**Plot** refers to the ability to plot (x ,y) coordinate pairs when given a table of values. 100% of the students were able to correctly plot the points and draw a best fit line through the points (**Line**). 89% of the students successfully calculated the slope of this line. These skills are at the core of many of the laboratories, the high success rate suggests that the students either had or have acquired the mathematical skills that the course intended to impart.

During the summer term the students produced far fewer laboratory reports. Work on linear regressions was done using calculators and best fit line sketched by hand on graph paper. Based on the item analysis data above, students did master plotting data and finding the slope of the best fit line for that data.

A report was done on like and disliked laboratories.

During spring 2009 my son learned to ride a derivation of a skateboard called a RipStik. He managed to extract from his mother a promise to buy him one during a summer trip to the states summer 2009. During the fall of 2009 closer observation suggested that the device might be useful for demonstrating a number of concepts in physical science. At that time a request for the acquisition of one by the division was made and granted. During the December 2009 between-term break I learned to operate the RipStik, although not without some serious falls and minor injuries.

The RipStik was again used during the summer 2010 term as a demonstrator for linear motion, accelerated motion, potential and kinetic energy, forces, and wavelength, frequency, period. A test on the latermost material included material based on a RipStik sine wave. The RipStik functioned both as a way to demonstrate basic physical relationships and to catch the attention of the students. Each demonstration drew their undivided attention. Learning begins with focusing on a system, and the RipStik garnered that focus.