Increasing Students’ Preparedness for Physics Class


Dr. Lajoie and Ogilvie's Miller Mini-Grant project revolved around the creation and implementation of reading assignments in the course Physics 241 and 242. These assessments were implemented in combination with the use of an open textbook, OpenStax University Physics, during the fall of 2018 and spring of 2019 respectively. The open textbook and reading assignments were designed to enhance and improve student learning by encouraging reading of the textbook prior to lectures.

Each assignment took the form of a short-answer quiz with two components. First, students were to skim the subjects for the upcoming week’s lectures and come up with a question of their own about the material. Second, students were instructed to read the textbook more carefully and write a brief answer to their question.

Assessment for this project was thorough but lacked a solid ruling on the effectiveness of the new assessments. As the PIs stated in their final project report: 

"Fourteen of the nineteen students who completed 80% or more of the reading assignments earned a final grade of B or higher. Of the three students who received failing grades for the course, one student completed zero reading assignments, and all three completed fewer than 30% of the reading assignments. The two students with incomplete grades received incomplete grades for failing to finish the required labs for the course. One of the two students completed 50% of the reading assignments, while the other completed 93% of assignments.

In summary, we cannot make any claims that completing the reading assignments improved student learning. It is possible that not completing the assignments is an early warning that students are not keeping up with the course. More students would be needed to make conclusions about the learning gains and reading assignments."