Education research: MPEX pre- and post-instruction results (Cuesta College, Fall Semester 2010)

The Maryland Physics Expectations survey (MPEX, Redish, Saul, and Steinberg, 1998) was administered to Cuesta College Physics 205B (college physics, algebra-based, mandatory adjunct laboratory) students at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA. The MPEX was given during the first week of the semester, and then on the last week of the semester, to quantify student attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions about physics using six question categories, rating responses as either favorable or unfavorable towards:
  1. Independence--beliefs about learning physics--whether it means receiving information or involves an active process of reconstructing one's own understanding;
  2. Coherence--beliefs about the structure of physics knowledge--as a collection of isolated pieces or as a single coherent system;
  3. Concepts--beliefs about the content of physics knowledge--as formulas or as concepts that underlie the formulas;
  4. Reality Link--beliefs about the connection between physics and reality--whether physics is unrelated to experiences outside the classroom or whether it is useful to think about them together;
  5. Math Link--beliefs about the role of mathematics in learning physics--whether the mathematical formalism is used as a way of representing information about physical phenomena or mathematics is just used to calculate numbers;
  6. Effort--beliefs about the kind of activities and work necessary to make sense out of physics--whether they expect to think carefully and evaluate what they are doing based on available materials and feedback or not.
Cuesta College
Physics 205B Fall Semester 2010 section 70856
San Luis Obispo, CA campus
(N = 11, matched pairs,
excluding negative informed consent form responses)

Percentage of favorable:unfavorable responses
Overall Indep. Coher. Concept Real. Math Effort
Initial 61:22 41:24 56:25 49:29 91:05 62:22 75:09
Final 53:26 35:27 55:18 47:36 77:11 47:27 49:20
Caution is advised in interpreting these results due to the extremely small number of students in this section.

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