MS Defense: David Tibbets

Defense – Tuesday 7th April at 4:00pm in P-250 there will be a Masters Thesis Defense presented by David Tibbets who will talk about “Investigating Student Success with Kinematics and Force-Dynamics Solutions Using Increased Visual Reasoning.”


A study involving 37 SDSU students enrolled in an algebra-based introductory physics for non-majors lab (Physics 182A) was used to determine whether such students are better able to solve kinematics and force dynamics problems when taught additional, Visual-Reasoning (VR) methods as opposed to being taught only the traditional solution methods. The VR methods were developed to employ less abstract symbology than the traditional methods. Evaluation problems based on the physics section of the Medical College Admission Test were given for kinematics as pre- and post-tests, and again after students had been focusing on force dynamics for three weeks in order to evaluate long-term retention. Evaluation problems were also given for force dynamics as pre- and post-tests. The normalized-gain formula was employed to calculated values for use in t-tests. Due to sample-size limitations in this unfunded study, alpha was chosen to be .10 prior to the start of the study. The two study groups were not found to differ significantly in any pre-test evaluation. The VR methods group outperformed the control group in all later evaluations. For the kinematics post-test, p was significant at the 0.0827 level. For long-term kinematics retention, p was significant at the 0.0645 level. For the force-dynamics post-test, p was 0.7348, not statistically significant. Recommendations are given for further testing under conditions where students’ actual class grades would be affected now that there is evidence that VR methods do not significantly risk their progress or achievement.

Committee Members:

Dr. Donald Rehfuss (Chair, Dept. of Physics),

Dr. Arlette Baljon (Dept. of Physics), and

Dr. Cheryl Mason (Dept. of Education).


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