For an overview of Mastering Physics and more information on the research, read our research report
We wanted to explore if use of Mastering Physics helps students achieve better results in exams and external standardized tests.
We partnered with Penn State University, and conducted two studies with students who were enrolled in the Fall 2015 and Fall 2016 semesters in the first-semester introductory physics course, Phys 211, General Physics Mechanics (correlational study).
We also studied students who completed the first-semester class, and then went on to study Phys 212, Electricity and Magnetism the following semester (longitudinal study).
We examined outcome measures that would give a valid indication of student achievement — the average exam score that students received in the course, and two widely accepted standardized tests designed to measure a student’s mastery of physics concepts taught during the first year of university.
As there are many ways to implement Mastering Physics, it is important to note that in both semesters:
Results showed that students’ average score on Mastering Physics homework assignments was positively and significantly related to the average exam scores and FCI gains in the first-semester, introductory physics course in Fall 2015 and Fall 2016.
We found no significant relationship between the number of hints students requested and their course performance in this first-semester course.
Students’ average score on Mastering Physics homework assignments was positively and significantly related to achievement in the average exam scores and BEMA post-test scores in the Spring 2016, second-semester course.
The number of hints requested by students was positively and significantly associated with exam scores and BEMA post-test scores.
Read our Mastering Physics research report
A 10% increase in Mastering Physics homework grades is linked to a 4% increase in exam scores.
A 10% increase in Mastering Physics homework grades is linked to a 2% increase in FCI gains.
A 10% increase in Mastering Physics homework grades is linked to a 3% increase in BEMA post-test scores.
Requesting an additional 50 hints on homework assignments is associated with an increase in average exam scores of 2 percentage points.
Requesting an additional 50 hints on homework assignments is associated with an increase in students’ BEMA post-test scores of 3 percentage points.
All of our efficacy statements reflect a relationship between Mastering Physics and performance above and beyond students’ prior achievement. That means, for the whole sample of students in both studies, researchers took into account students’ prior academic achievement such as their scores on the ALEKS test, and measured the contribution of Mastering Physics on top of that.
Professor Delena Bell Gatch of Georgia Southern University found that students who practiced homework assignments outside of class were more prepared for class and lab, and performed better on assessments.
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— Delena Bell Gatch, Associate Professor, Georgia Southern University, US
— Student, Georgia Southern University, US
Professor Delena Bell Gatch, of Georgia Southern University, implemented Mastering Physics to provide her students with immediate feedback and grading so they know where they need to improve.
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