Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Computation as a Model Building Tool in a High School Physics Classroom
by Stirewalt, Heather R., M.S., California State University, Long Beach, 2018, 87; 10785706
Abstract (Summary)

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have established computational thinking as one of the science and engineering practices that should be developed in high school classrooms. Much of the work done by scientists is accomplished through the use of computation, but many students leave high school with little to no exposure to coding of any kind. This study outlines an attempt to integrate computational physics lessons into a high school algebra-based physics course which utilizes Modeling Instruction. Specifically, it aims to determine if students who complete computational physics assignments demonstrate any difference in understanding force concepts as measured by the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) versus students who do not. Additionally, it investigates students’ attitudes about learning computation alongside physics. Students were introduced to Vpython programs during the course of a semester. The FCI was administered pre and post instruction, and the gains were measured against a control group. The Computational Modeling in Physics Attitudinal Student Survey (COMPASS) was administered post instruction and the responses were analyzed. While the FCI gains were slightly larger on average than the control group, the difference was not statistically significant. This at least suggests that incorporating computational physics assignments does not adversely affect students’ conceptual learning.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Henriques, Laura, Papp, Zoltan
Commitee: Pickett, Galen
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Physics and Astronomy
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 58/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Computational physics, Education, Physics
Publication Number: 10785706
ISBN: 9780438196384
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