A Descriptive Study of Cooperative Problem Solving Introductory Physics Labs:
The purpose of this study was to determine the ways in which cooperative problem
solving in physics instructional laboratories influenced the students’ ability to provide
qualitative responses to problems. The literature shows that problem solving involves
both qualitative and quantitative skills. Qualitative skills are important because those
skills are the foundation for the quantitative aspects of problem solving. (Chi, et al.,
1981). The literature also indicates that cooperative problem solving should enhance the
students’ performance. As a practical matter surveys of departments that require
introductory physics classes expect their students to have general qualitative problem
solving skills. The students in this study were asked to solve problem(s) before coming to a lab session
and then cooperatively assess whether or not their answers were correct by conducting a
laboratory activity for which they had to plan the procedure and obtain the necessary
results. TA’s were expected to provide instruction under a cognitive apprenticeship
model. The results showed that the cooperative problem solving laboratories had almost no
impact on the students’ problem solving skills as measured from the start of a two hour lab session to the end of the lab session...The reason for this may have been that students
did not have enough experience in the solving of different kinds of problems in the two
domains of Newton’s second Law and gravitation to overcome their misconceptions and
become competent. Another possibility was that the TA’s did not follow the cognitive
apprenticeship model as consistently as might have been needed.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2011. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Fred N. Finley. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 122 pages, appendix p. 120-122.
Knutson, Paul Aanond.
A descriptive study of cooperative problem solving introductory physics labs..
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