Improved Learning in a Large-Enrollment Physics Class

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Science  13 May 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6031, pp. 862-864
DOI: 10.1126/science.1201783

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We compared the amounts of learning achieved using two different instructional approaches under controlled conditions. We measured the learning of a specific set of topics and objectives when taught by 3 hours of traditional lecture given by an experienced highly rated instructor and 3 hours of instruction given by a trained but inexperienced instructor using instruction based on research in cognitive psychology and physics education. The comparison was made between two large sections (N = 267 and N = 271) of an introductory undergraduate physics course. We found increased student attendance, higher engagement, and more than twice the learning in the section taught using research-based instruction.

  • * On leave from the University of British Columbia and the University of Colorado.

  • This work does not necessarily represent the views of the Office of Science and Technology Policy or the United States government.

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