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How physics instruction impacts students’ beliefs about learning physics: A meta-analysis of 24 studies
written by Adrian M. Madsen, Sarah B. McKagan, and Eleanor C. Sayre
In this meta-analysis, we synthesize the results of 24 studies using the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey (CLASS) and the Maryland Physics Expectations Survey (MPEX) to answer several questions: (1) How does physics instruction impact students' beliefs? (2) When do physics majors develop expert-like beliefs? and (3) How do students' beliefs impact their learning of physics? We report that in typical physics classes, students' beliefs deteriorate or at best stay the same. There are a few types of interventions, including an explicit focus on model-building and (or) developing expert-like beliefs that lead to significant improvements in beliefs. Further, small courses and those for elementary education and non-science majors also result in improved beliefs. However, because the available data over-samples certain types of classes, it is unclear whether these improvements are actually due to the interventions, or due to the small class size, or student populations typical of the kinds of classes in which these interventions are most often used. Physics majors tend to enter their undergraduate education with more expert-like beliefs than non-majors and these beliefs remain relatively stable throughout their undergraduate careers. Thus, typical physics courses appear to be selecting students who already have strong beliefs, rather than supporting students in developing strong beliefs. There is a small correlation between students' incoming beliefs about physics and their gains on conceptual mechanics surveys. This suggests that students with more expert-like incoming beliefs may learn more in their physics courses, but this finding should be further explored and replicated.
Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research: Volume 11, Issue 1, Pages 010115
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