Development and Assessment of an Oscillatory Motion Tutorial
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Series/Report no.:2016 Richard J. and Martha D. Denman Undergraduate Research Forum. 21st
Our research over the previous two semesters has indicated that introductory physics students are not able to consistently determine the angular frequency, period, or frequency from graphical representations and do not have a firm grasp on these concepts. Since the harmonic oscillator is a fundamental model in many physical and biological systems, it is critical that students understand the concepts and relationships that underlie the model. In order to help students develop these skills, we created a tutorial that could be completed in a 40-minute group work session. The tutorial guided students to work in small groups to complete tasks that involved determining the period, frequency, and angular frequency from graphical representations and mathematical expressions. The tutorial then instructed the students to show that reading these parameters from graphical representations produced the same results as using mathematical expressions to calculate the parameters. Following the completion of the tutorial, a 28-item post-test was administered to the students who had completed the tutorial as well as to a similar group of students who had performed an unrelated task. The students were randomly assigned to the tutorial condition and the control condition before the experiment began. Students in the tutorial condition scored significantly higher than the students in the control group did (t=5.26, p<.001) with a substantial effect size (d=1.04). We hope to use the tutorial as a guide to update our Essential Skills platform, an online application, which is currently being used to assist students in several introductory physics courses in developing the skills to understand oscillatory motion.
Mathematical and Physical Sciences: 4th Place, Honorable Mention (The Ohio State University Denman Undergraduate Research Forum)
Academic Major: Physics
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