SC 130 Physical Science assessment fall 2011 psb3

This report focuses on assessing the gain of core scientific skills in SC 130 Physical Science. This assessment is based on the course outline and is intended to report back into the course outline. The new outline format specifies both outcomes and assessment of those outcomes, this report reports on the results of those assessments for the areas of the outline that were examined this term. The first part of this report parallels the outline.

Course Description: A one semester natural science with laboratory course exploring motion, dynamics, heat, earth sciences, weather, climate, sound, optics, light, electricity, chemistry, and astronomy, with a focus on mathematical models and an emphasis on written communication skills.

  1. Program Learning Outcomes (PLO):
    1. 1.1 Write a clear, well-organized paper using documentation and quantitative tools when appropriate.
    2. 3.2 Present and interpret numeric information in graphic forms.
    3. 3.4 Define and explain the concepts, principles, and theories of a field of science.
    4. 3.5 Perform experiments that gather scientific information and to utilize, interpret, and explain the results of experiments and field work in a field of science
  2. Course Learning Outcomes (CLO):
    1. Demonstrate core scientific skills
    2. Perform experiments in mechanics
    3. Perform experiments in material and earth sciences
    4. Perform experiments in wave based phenomena

  3. CLOPLO 1.1PLO 3.2PLO 3.4PLO 3.5
    1DI, DI

  4. Student Learning Outcomes (SLO):

    CLO1 Demonstrate core scientific skills
    Student learning outcomesAssessment strategies
    1.1 Explore physical science systems using scientific methodologies Laboratory reports

    Of 31 students, 27 completed six or more of the laboratory reports which represents 75% of the students.

    Student learning outcomesAssessment strategies
    1.2 Generate mathematical models for physical science systems Laboratory reports

    In support of general education program learning outcome 3.2 and course student learning outcome 1.2, students who have completed SC 130 physical science can read and interpret graphical information, comprehend the mathematical models implied by data and charts, and they can plot data generating their own graphs.

    Students were asked on quiz one and again on the final examination to find the slope of a line from a line on a graph, relate the slope to a physical quantity (density), plot points on a graph and find the slope of the best fit line. Performance improved on all of these skills from quiz one to the final examination. In the table below the percentages are the percentage of students answering the question correctly on the listed instrument.

    Question topicquiz onefinalΔ%se
    calculate slope from line on graph0.520.770.260.08
    density as equal to slope 0.380.710.330.09
    infer effect of density 0.660.900.250.08
    plot data on graph 0.720.810.080.05
    draw line through data points 0.720.810.080.05
    calculate slope from line on graph0.550.680.130.06

    The strongest rise in performance was seen in associating the slope with a physical quantity. Student became more proficient in working with linear systems, they also gained an understanding that the mathematics represents a physical system.

    Gaining the understanding that mathematical models describe physical systems is an important learning outcome. The course culminates with material covering the work on developing a "theory of everything" - a mathematical über model for the universe Many of these models are purely mathematical entities, to date testing the predictions the models make is beyond current technology. Understanding the nature, importance, and role of these models requires first comprehending the role of mathematics in describing physical systems. Mathematics is the language of physical science. The course accomplishes this understanding.

    The actual building of this connection between a physical reality and mathematical models is accomplished through the laboratories and their reports.

    Student learning outcomesAssessment strategies
    1.3 Write up the results of experiments in a formal format using spreadsheet and word processing software. Laboratory reports

    The laboratory reports showed significant improvement in grammar, vocabulary, organization, and cohesion. The students not only produced laboratory reports, but through the term long process of writing, receiving feedback, and using that feedback on their next report, the students saw an improvement in their grammar, vocabulary, organization, and cohesion skilll as measured by a rubric.

    The rubric used is based on the rubric used to mark the COMET entrance examination essays. This rubric has also been used to assess writing skills among students at the college in writing courses. Of possible rubric options, the rubric in use is arguably the best understood at the college. The rubric has a five point scale, details are included in a table at the end of this report.

    The chart depicts the 95% confidence interval on laboratory report one and laboratory report fourteen for each of the four metrics: grammar, vocabulary, organization, and cohesion. The horizontal tick mark is the average (mean) score for the students on that metric.

    95% confidence intervals for grammar, vocabulary, organization, and cohesion

    The students engaged in the processes of science, gained an understanding of the mathematics that forms the language of physical science theories, and improved their writing skills.

    Photographic Documentation of Laboratories

    1. Density
    2. Linear motion
    3. Gravity
    4. Momentum
    5. Hooke's Law
    6. Thermal conductivity
    7. Latitude and longitude
    8. Clouds
    9. Speed of Sound
    10. Spectra and colors of light
    11. Reflection and Refraction
    12. Electricity
    13. Floral Litmus Solutions
    14. Refractive Index of Glass
    15. Site swap laboratory

    Grammar, Vocabulary, Organization, and Cohesion rubric

    [G] Grammar and Syntax [-2 if conclusion too short to judge grammar properly]
    5No errors of grammar or word order. Correct use of tense.
    4Some errors of grammar or word order but communication not impaired.
    3Fairly frequent errors of grammar or word order; occasional re-reading necessary for full comprehension.
    2Frequent errors of grammar or word order; efforts of interpretation sometimes required on reader's part.
    1Very frequent errors of grammar or word order; reader often has to rely on own interpretation.
    0Errors of grammar or word order so severe as to make comprehension virtually impossible.
    [V] Vocabulary [-2 if conclusion too short - taken as evidence of vocabulary limitations]
    5Appropriate terms used consistently, clear command of vocabulary with a focus on correct usage of physical science vocabulary, no misspelled words.
    4Occasionally uses inappropriate terms or relies on circumlocution; expression of ideas not impaired; or a few misspelled words.
    3Uses wrong or inappropriate words fairly frequently; expression of ideas may be limited because of inadequate vocabulary, or many misspelled words.
    2Limited vocabulary and frequent errors clearly hinder expression of ideas.
    1Vocabulary so limited and so frequently misused that reader must often rely on own interpretation.
    0Vocabulary limitations so extreme as to make comprehension virtually impossible.
    [O] Organization
    5All sections present in the proper order. Material exceptionally well organized. Conclusion well structured with introductory and concluding phrases.
    4One section out of sequence or omitted. Material well organized; structure could occasionally be clearer but communication not impaired.
    3Multiple sections out of sequence, some lack of organization; re-reading required for clarification of ideas. For example, tables and graphs printed from a spreadsheet and then stapled to the back of a lab write-up printed from a word processing program.
    2Multiple sections omitted. Little or no attempt at connectivity, though reader can deduce some organization.
    1Individual ideas may be clear, but very difficult to deduce connection between them.
    0Lack of organization so severe that communication is seriously impaired.
    [C] Cohesion [0 if text too short to judge cohesion]
    5Consistent choices in cohesive structures. Ideas flow logically. Conclusion remains on topic. Connector words assist the reader.
    4Occasional lack of consistency in choice of cohesive structures and vocabulary but overall ease of communication not impaired.
    3Patchy, with some cohesive structures or vocabulary items noticeably inappropriate to general style. Ideas tend to be disconnected from each other. Reads more like an outline than a coherent essay, or written as a list of answers to questions without connector words and phrases generating a choppy, disjoint style
    2Cohesive structures or vocabulary items sometimes not only inappropriate but also misused; little sense of ease of communication. Connector words and phrases confuse and mislead the reader, but sense can be made of the conclusion.
    1Communication often impaired by completely inappropriate or misused cohesive structures or vocabulary items making it difficult to make scientific sense of the conclusion.
    0A 'hodgepodge' of half-learned misused cohesive structures and vocabulary items rendering communication almost impossible.