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We present preliminary results from a comparative study of student understanding for students who attended recitation classes which used different teaching methods. Student volunteers from our introductory calculus-based physics course attended a special recitation class that was taught using one of four different teaching methods. A total of 272 students were divided into approximately equal groups for each method. Students in each class were taught the same topic, "Changes in energy and momentum," from Tutorials in Introductory Physics. The different teaching methods varied in the amount of student and teacher engagement. Student understanding was evaluated through pretests and posttests given at the recitation class. Our results demonstrate the importance of the instructor's role in teaching recitation classes. The most effective teaching method was for students working in cooperative learning groups with the instructors questioning the groups using Socratic dialogue. These results provide guidance and evidence for the teaching methods which should be emphasized in training future teachers and faculty members.
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