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In 1993, Rensselaer introduced the first Studio Physics course. Two years later, the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) was used to measure the conceptual learning gain in the course. This was found to be a disappointing 0.22, indicating that Studio Physics was no more effective at teaching basic Newtonian concepts than a traditional course. Our study verified that result, = 0.18 ± 0.12 (s.d.), and thereby provides a baseline measurement of conceptual learning gains in Studio Physics I for engineers. These low gains are especially disturbing because the studio classroom appears to be interactive and instructors strive to incorporate modern pedagogies. The goal of our investigation was to determine if incorporation of research-based activities into Studio Physics would have a significant effect on conceptual learning gains. To measure gains, we utilized the Force Concept Inventory and the Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation (FMCE). In the process of pursuing this goal, we verified the effectiveness of Interactive Lecture Demonstrations [ = 0.35 ± 0.06 (s.d.) and = 0.45 ± 0.03 (s.d.)] and Cooperative Group Problem Solving ( = 0.36 and = 0.36), and examined the feasibility of using these techniques in the studio classroom. Further, we have assessed conceptual learning in the standard Studio Physics course [ = 0.18 ± 0.12 (s.d.) and = 0.21 ± 0.05 (s.d.)]. In this paper, we will clarify the issues noted above. We will also discuss difficulties in implementing these techniques for first time users and implications for the future directions of the Studio Physics courses at Rensselaer.
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