Physics Colloquium: Prof. Abigail Mechtenberg, University of Notre Dame


Location: zoom

Lab TA Feedback with [Re]Active Negative Tone Tolerated by Students with [Pro]Active Learning Overall

Prof. Abigail Mechtenberg
University of Notre Dame

At a rate between 700-900+ students/year implementation of this novel experimental design (ED) pedagogy, 5 years of data have been collected. This ED pedagogy moves an Active Physics lab culture from cookbook labs into inquiry-based labs, and towards a final project with the overarching goal of connecting to research or student driven interests. Building upon pattern recognition within cookbook labs and anthropological norms of doing science, ED-labs focus on three thought spheres: measurements (M), calculations (C), and variations (V). In addition to spheres of thinking, ED-labs connect these thought spheres to develop analysis pathways of processing science (MCV/VCM/CMV/MVC/VMC/CVM): derivation versus regression-based analysis pathways each with distinct error and/or uncertainty conclusions. Finally, all ED-labs/projects move through the thought spheres and processing pathways in four lab stages: Design, Data, Analysis, and Communication. With Google Classroom, students submitted their AIP formatted lab reports. Subsequently, lab TAs wrote lab report feedback comments, as well as returned these comments with rubric-based lab report grades. For 797 lab reports in Spring 2018, all 8,731 Lab TA comments were analyzed in terms of total words, tone, complexity, probing level, and balance between judging and advising categories. The hypothesis was that the tone of Lab TA comments were correlated to student lab course evaluations and final exam scores. Tone and probative comments correlated and were able to predict student lab course evaluations, yielding an understanding that negative tone comments can be tolerated by students if the comments strongly probe the students. However, probative comments, and a balance between judging and advising comment categories were correlated. Together, they were able to predict the student lab final exam score. Fascinatingly, tone was not at all correlated to the lab final exam score. We discuss future research into the potential Active Physics classroom culture differences in terms of [Re]Active and [Pro]Active cultural roles in which teachers and students inhabit, thereby influencing their relationships to hinder/enhance knowledge development and scientific creativity. The [Re]Active Teaching/Learning pair is discussed as Judge-Teaching Assistant (J-TA) paired with Cookbook-Lab Learner (CL-L), and the [Pro]Active Teaching/Learning pair is discussed as Adviser-Teaching Assistant (A-TA) with Inquiry-Lab Learner (IL-L). 

All interested persons are invited to attend remotely—email for information.