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Grounded Learning Experience: Helping Students Learn Physics through Visuo-Haptic Priming and Instruction

Huang, Shih-Chieh Douglas

In this dissertation, I investigate the effects of a grounded learning experience on college students' mental models of physics systems. The grounded learning experience consisted of a priming stage and an instruction stage, and within each stage, one of two different types of visuo-haptic representation was applied: visuo-gestural simulation (visual modality and gestures) and visuo-haptic simulation (visual modality, gestures, and somatosensory information). A pilot study involving N = 23 college students examined how using different types of visuo-haptic representation in instruction affected people's mental model construction for physics systems. Participants' abilities to construct mental models were operationalized through their pretest-to-posttest gain scores for a basic physics system and their performance on a transfer task involving an advanced physics system. Findings from this pilot study revealed that, while both simulations significantly improved participants' mental modal construction for physics systems, visuo-haptic simulation was significantly better than visuo-gestural simulation. In addition, clinical interviews suggested that participants' mental model construction for physics systems benefited from receiving visuo-haptic simulation in a tutorial prior to the instruction stage. A dissertation study involving N = 96 college students examined how types of visuo-haptic representation in different applications support participants' mental model construction for physics systems. Participant's abilities to construct mental models were again operationalized through their pretest-to-posttest gain scores for a basic physics system and their performance on a transfer task involving an advanced physics system. Participants' physics misconceptions were also measured before and after the grounded learning experience. Findings from this dissertation study not only revealed that visuo-haptic simulation was significantly more effective in promoting mental model construction and remedying participants' physics misconceptions than visuo-gestural simulation, they also revealed that visuo-haptic simulation was more effective during the priming stage than during the instruction stage. Interestingly, the effects of visuo-haptic simulation in priming and visuo-haptic simulation in instruction on participants' pretest-to-posttest gain scores for a basic physics system appeared additive. These results suggested that visuo-haptic simulation is effective in physics learning, especially when it is used during the priming stage.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Cognitive Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Black, John B.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 30, 2013
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