Northwestern Events Calendar


PLaTS: Tianlong Zu: Improving intro physics problem-solving skills through research with retrieval practice.

When: Monday, September 26, 2022
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM Central

Where: Technological Institute, F-160, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Joan West  

Group: Physics Learning and Teaching Seminar (PLaTS)

Category: Academic


Abstract: Physics education research (PER), as an emerging research field, is dedicated to improving physics instruction and learning through rigorous scientific methods. In this talk, I will discuss some of the main contributions from PER to physics instruction and several ongoing challenging issues that general physics education is facing. One of such persisting challenges is how to improve intro physics students’ problem solving skills. I will talk about how to use retrieval practice to improve physics problem solving skills and retention of knowledge. Retrieval practice, as a method shown to be effective promoting retention of studied material, is rarely used in physics classroom. In study one, retrieval practice was demonstrated to be more effective at improving problem solving skills compared to peer instruction based restudying. Impact on students’ metacognitive skills will also be discussed. Study two examines the effect of guided retrieval practice in terms of questions and feedback in terms of question answers or lecture video summary on college students’ problem solving as well as one-week delayed retention performance. We found that students who practiced guided retrieval outperformed those practiced restudy regardless of the type of feedback. The effect is prominent when the problems used on the test are isomorphic to the guided questions during retrieval than when they are transfer questions. Students who just restudied the material also over-predicted their performance compared to the retrieval group. This difference in performance judgment disappeared after seeing the feedback. Overall, we found evidence supporting the effectiveness of retrieval practice in physics learning. 

Speaker: Tianlong Zu, Assistant Professor of Instruction

Host: PLaTS Organizing Committee


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