University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Research Council


Heidi Fencl

Heidi Fencl

Fall 2012

"Evaluation of Problem Solving Website Effectiveness via Think Alouds"

Grant in Aid of Research

Final Report: "My Grant in Aid of Research was awarded to hire undergraduate science education student Amanda Nothem to tape physics students as they completed three physics problems while speaking their thoughts aloud and to code that data. The study began slowly, as Amanda needed to complete her Human Subjects training before we could submit the protocol to the IRB. Full review was required because the subjects were taped. We therefore contacted the Research Council for an extension of the grant and are very grateful that it was approved. 10 students initially signed up for the study. Based on that number, we notified Lidia Nonn that some of our intended budget could be released back into the GIAR program. In the end, seven students took part. Amanda’s 20.5 hours of work ($315.50) allowed her to tape all students, transcribe all tapes, and code the transcripts for comparison with my coding. At this time, we have not yet cross-referenced the coded results. However, we are very pleased with the preliminary results of the study. Of the seven participants, two had a clear and distinct difference in their approach to solving the problems compared to the other five students. Those two have made progress from the “novice” approach to problem solving into a deeper analysis of physics interactions. They began all problems by indentifying the physics to consider, and they checked their answers to see if they made conceptual sense. These are the higher order steps that are modeled by the website we tested, and the only two students that showed this type of analysis were two of the three who indicated regular use of the website. Full analysis of the data remains to be done, but these early indications suggest both that the website does help students develop higher order approaches to physics problems and that the work is likely to be publishable."

Fall 2009

"Software for Development of Online Problem-Solving Tutorial"

Grant in Aid of Research

Fall 2005

Faculty Lecture Series Presenter

Spring 2004

"Develop and Test a Strategy to aid Students as they learn to narrow broad real world questions into Abstract, Tractable Force Diagrams"

Grant for Integrating Research and Teaching