The Physics Explorations with Direct Measurement Videos collection features questions with embedded video clips of actual events and systems, such as objects colliding and rockets launching. The videos utilize rulers, grids, frame-counters and other graphical overlays that allow students to make measurements directly from the video to analyze and apply physics concepts, giving real-world context to the physics they are learning.
These videos were created by veteran physics instructor Peter Bohacek, who was looking for ways to enhance his students’ learning. “Direct-measurement videos offer many advantages over traditional word problems,” explained Bohacek. “Instead of simply describing the launch of a rocket, these videos show the launch in all its spectacular glory. Not only is this captivating and engaging, but students can see and clearly understand the situation they are analyzing.”
This resource is unique because viewing a direct-measurement video instead of reading a word problem changes how students approach the problem. With word problems, students sometimes scan through the sentences, searching for numbers they can use in a physics equation. Even if they get the correct answer, they don’t always know what the numbers represent, or why their solution worked. With direct-measurement videos, students’ first step is determining what information they will need, a crucial step in real-world problem solving. Once they gather this information from the video, they then use their measurements to solve the quantitative problem. This helps strengthen the connection between the numerical value (5 seconds) and a physical quantity (the time for the rocket to travel 80 meters).
Three key features of these questions make the collection a robust resource:
- Instant and customized feedback: Each question has custom feedback to help the students make correct measurements. Not only does the feedback tell the student if their value is too high or too low, but it also suggests ways to improve the quality of the measurement.
- Question randomization: One powerful feature of WebAssign is the ability to randomize questions so that students don’t all have the same answers. The questions in this collection are randomized as well, with multiple video versions of the same event. WebAssign randomly selects one version of the video when a student begins work on the question. All student feedback is then based on the correct values for that video. In addition, key values, such as the mass of an object, are also randomized.
- Instructional scaffolding: Some questions provide “scaffolding” –question structure that helps the student learn as they progress through a problem or lab. These questions combine traits of labs, tutorials, and word problems.
The result is an exciting, engaging, new method for physics instruction. This question set is available with any WebAssign physics course at no additional cost and can be added to your course as an additional resource.