About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4450-4459
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-615-5563-5
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain


D. Stokes, R. Forrest, C.D. Voight

University of Houston (UNITED STATES)
The student success rate in the algebra-based Introductory General Physics I course at the University of Houston (UH) and across the United States is low in comparison to success rates in other service courses, where success is defined as completing the course with a grade of D or higher. Many research-based interactive approaches, i.e, Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (ILDs), Peer-Instruction and Just in Time Teaching (JiTT), have been tested and have proven to lead to student learning gains. Despite implementation of these approaches, the student success rate is only about 65% at UH. This course is required by the degree plans of ten majors, including technology and biology, which have been identified as critical needs areas to the future of Texas as well as for the nation; therefore, it is of great importance to improve the student success rate.

There are many factors which can contribute to the documented success rates for this course; (1) Lack of understanding of the fundamental physics concepts. Research-based pedagogical approaches have led to improved conceptual understanding and student engagement, but have not led to improved overall student success. (2) Inadequate preparation. The prerequisite for the course is a passing grade in Precalculus; however, not all students who meet this requirement have the necessary math and problem solving skills. (3) Inadequate preparation during the course. Homework assignments are meant to address this; however, students often only work the assigned problems and expect the exams to be similar to those problem, hence the plug and chug idea.

In order to improve student success rates, we have implement, in addition to interactive teaching techniques, pre-testing and an early intervention process to identify at risk students and to help them successfully complete the course. The pre-testing includes a math and problem-solving skills diagnostic exam and pre-tests administered prior to all regular exams. Students identified as at risk based on their scores on these pre-tests are given incentives to utilize a tutoring intervention consisting of on-line math tutoring to address math deficiencies and tutoring by graduate Physics Teaching Assistant to address student understanding of the physics concepts.

Over 720 students are enrolled in the course per semester. This study was conducted in one section of the course in the Fall 2011 semester containing 184 students. Of the at risk students, those who used the on-line math tutoring had an average class grade of 70% with a standard deviation of 10%, and those who did not had an average class grade of 50% with a standard deviation of 15% after the second regular exam. This indicates, thus far, that the early math tutoring component has led to improved student learning gains. All students identified as at risk based on pre-test scores had positive gains ranging from 19 – 32% for the two regular exams. However, the large standard deviations of these gains indicate that they are not statistically significant. The results of this study, upon completion, will be used for comparison with students’ final grades in the course for those students participating/not participating in math and TA tutoring intervention component. In addition, the success rate of the entire class will be measured to determine if the pre-testing and early intervention method led to improved student success rates for the course.
author = {Stokes, D. and Forrest, R. and Voight, C.D.},
series = {6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2012 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-5563-5},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {5-7 March, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {4450-4459}}
AU - D. Stokes AU - R. Forrest AU - C.D. Voight
SN - 978-84-615-5563-5/2340-1079
PY - 2012
Y1 - 5-7 March, 2012
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2012 Proceedings
SP - 4450
EP - 4459
ER -
D. Stokes, R. Forrest, C.D. Voight (2012) PRE-TESTING AND EARLY INTERVENTION IN INTRODUCTORY GENERAL PHYSICS I, INTED2012 Proceedings, pp. 4450-4459.