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Modeling the effects of multicontextual physics instruction on learner expectations and understanding of force and motion systems

, University of Florida, United States

University of Florida . Awarded


The purpose of this study is two-fold involving both practical and theoretical modeling components. The practical component, an experiential-learning phase, investigated a study population for effects that increasing levels of multicontextual physics activities have on student understanding of Newtonian systems of motion. This contextual-learning model measured learner convictions and non-response gaps and analyzed learner response trends on context, technology, challenge, growth, and success.

The theoretical component, a model-building phase, designed a dynamic-knowing model for learning along a range of experiential tasks, from low to high context, monitored for indicators of learning in science and mathematics: learner academic performance and ability, learner control and academic attitude, and a learner non-response gap. This knowing model characterized a learner's process-of-knowing on a less to more expert-like learner-response continuum using performance and perspective indices associated with level of contextual-imagery referent system.

Data for the contextual-learning model were collected on 180 secondary subjects: 72 middle and 108 high, with 36 physics subjects as local experts. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three experimental groups differing only on context level of force and motion activities. Three levels of information were presented through context-based tasks: momentum constancy as inertia, momentum change as impulse, and momentum rate of change as force.

The statistical analysis used a multi-level factorial design with repeated measures and discriminate analysis of response-conviction items. Subject grouping criteria included school level, ability level in science and mathematics, gender and race. Assessment criteria used pre/post performance scores, confidence level in physics concepts held, and attitude towards science, mathematics, and technology. Learner indices were computed from logit-transforms applied to learner outcomes and to study control and prediction criteria parameters.

Findings suggest learner success rates vary with multicontextual experience level. When controlling for context, learner success seems to depend on technology level of assessment tool, learner attitude toward technology learning tools, learner attitude toward science and mathematics, and challenge level of force and motion problems. A learner non-response gap seems important when monitoring learner conviction. Application of the knowing model to the study population pictures learners on a journey towards success referenced to a local expert response.


Deese Becht, S.M.F. Modeling the effects of multicontextual physics instruction on learner expectations and understanding of force and motion systems. Ph.D. thesis, University of Florida. Retrieved August 5, 2021 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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