Interactive-engagement versus traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses
American Journal of Physics
A survey of pre/post-test data using the Halloun-Hestenes Mechanics Diagnostic test or more recent Force Concept Inventory is reported for 62 introductory physics courses enrolling a total number of students Nϭ6542. A consistent analysis over diverse student populations in high schools, colleges, and universities is obtained if a rough measure of the average effectiveness of a course in promoting conceptual understanding is taken to be the average normalized gain ͗g͘. The latter is defined as
... ter is defined as the ratio of the actual average gain (%͗post͘Ϫ%͗pre͘) to the maximum possible average gain (100 Ϫ%͗pre͘). Fourteen "traditional" (T) courses (Nϭ2084) which made little or no use of interactive-engagement ͑IE͒ methods achieved an average gain ͗g͘ T-ave ϭ0.23Ϯ0.04 ͑std dev͒. In sharp contrast, 48 courses (Nϭ4458) which made substantial use of IE methods achieved an average gain ͗g͘ IE-ave ϭ0.48Ϯ0.14 ͑std dev͒, almost two standard deviations of ͗g͘ IE-ave above that of the traditional courses. Results for 30 (Nϭ3259) of the above 62 courses on the problem-solving Mechanics Baseline test of Hestenes-Wells imply that IE strategies enhance problem-solving ability. The conceptual and problem-solving test results strongly suggest that the classroom use of IE methods can increase mechanics-course effectiveness well beyond that obtained in traditional practice.