Thursday, January 24, 2008

Midterms, Part 1

The college prep class took their midterm today. After they settled down, they behaved well, though I was glad my aide for the basic classes had the time to help me out getting them settled today. They didn't do too terribly on the exam, either, although no one broke 30 out of 36 multiple choice questions. I'm not entirely sure if they're unclear on the concepts, or if they're seeing the questions they want to answer, rather than the questions that are there.

Next year, I'm definitely going to try to work in more demos with the force and motion sensors, and try to elicit concrete predictions from them. That might get them to actually confront their misconceptions, which is the first step towards changing their misconceptions.

I started planning for February. I'm going to do more of the Egg Drop project in class this year. Last year, I gave them the specifications and told them to build a container at home. That worked reasonably well, but not enough of them included the requisite physics in their writeups. This year, I'm going to do the drops on separate days, culminating with the tower drop on a Friday, and allowing them to make design changes along the way. This means that we're going to be spending more class time on it, so I had to construct a homework sequence to match. It doesn't make sense to assign plug-and-chug problems requiring calculation of momentum and impulse when I want them to be thinking about how to apply those concepts to their Egg Drop container. Fortunately, once I've written the WebAssign problems that I hope will guide their thinking along productive lines, it's a relatively simple matter to link those 'guiding' problems to each of the actual questions about their thinking and planning and calculating.

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