Assessing Learning in Physical Science

SC 130 Physical Science proposes to serve two institutional learning outcomes (ILO) through four general education program learning outcomes (GE PLO) addressed by four course level student learning outcomes (CLO). This report assesses learning under the course level learning outcomes which in turn support program and institutional learning outcomes.

This report is informed in part by a new stream of information not previously available. The adoption of Schoology Institutional in January 2018 provided access to the learning outcomes mastery screens within Schoology Institutional.

Note that this course has a focus on "doing" science, on science as a process, a way of understanding the natural physical world and the mathematics that underlies many physical systems. The course does not focus on memorized facts. The course is centered on science as being that which can be measured, observed, evidenced. The course is intended as a counter to memorized science. Once one shifts to memorized facts as the basis of a science, then any set of memorized facts can be seen by the learner as equally valid. Somewhere down at the bottom of that slope are those who are convinced the earth is flat and no one actually walked on the moon. By doing simple experiments that seek to measure physical properties and quantities, by gathering and analyzing data, the intent is that students come to see science as a way of thinking about and analyzing the world around them.

The course directly supports institutional learning outcome eight and three general education outcomes.

ILO 8. Quantitative Reasoning: ability to reason and solve quantitative problems from a wide array of authentic contexts and everyday life situations; comprehends and can create sophisticated arguments supported by quantitative evidence and can clearly communicate those arguments in a variety of formats.

3.5 Perform experiments that use scientific methods as part of the inquiry process. 1. Explore physical science systems through experimentally based laboratories using scientific methodologies
3.4 Define and explain scientific concepts, principles, and theories of a field of science. 2. Define and explain concepts, theories, and laws in physical science.
3.2 Present and interpret numeric information in graphic forms. 3. Generate mathematical models for physical science systems and use appropriate mathematical techniques and concepts to obtain quantitative solutions to problems in physical science.

Phillip gathers coefficient of friction data

The course also supports institutional learning outcome two.

ILO 2. Effective written communication: development and expression of ideas in writing through work in many genres and styles, utilizing different writing technologies, and mixing texts, data, and images through iterative experiences across the curriculum.

1.1 Write a clear, well-organized paper using documentation and quantitative tools when appropriate. 4. Demonstrate basic communication skills by working in groups on laboratory experiments and by writing up the result of experiments, including thoughtful discussion and interpretation of data, in a formal format using spreadsheet and word processing software.

Stella, Paul, and Zakias learning to take a GPS reading

GPS coordinates were then used to explore a theory on the alignment of sacred sites with the summer solstice sun. Here the class is in the ancient stone city of Leluh


Explore physical science systems through experimentally based laboratories using scientific methodologies

For the purposes of evaluating this course learning outcome, laboratory eleven was evaluated. 

Lab 11 explored the relationship between object distance and image distance for a plane mirror

The laboratory reports were assessed to determine whether students properly recorded data in labelled tables, generated xy scatter graphs, made a decision on linearity and, if deemed to be a linear relationship, added linear trend lines to the graph, reported the slopes in their analysis, and discussed the results.

The class visited Kosrae Utility Authority to learn more about electricity and electrical systems

Analysis of laboratory eleven summer 2018

Of 21 students, only one did not turn in laboratory eleven. Twenty of the 21 students produced laboratory reports with data recorded in a properly formatted table. Those twenty students also generated an xy scattergraph with labels and units on the axes. Fifteen students ran a regression using Desmos and of those fifteen, seven generated a reasonably complete discussion of the meaning of the slope and the results of the laboratory.

Desmos with reflection data 

Summer 2018 on the Kosrae campus would see the first attempt to use Schoology Institutional with Google Drive Assignments and Desmos graphing calculator on a state campus connected to the Internet via satellite. The challenge for the campus is extremely limited bandwidth, limited to the point where pages do not just load slowly but fail to load fairly often. Assigning a laboratory report daily, as I had been doing on the national site, was not an option. I also faced equipment limitations and students who were perhaps not as adept with technology as students I tended to work with at the national campus. I opted to reduce the turned in laboratory report load down to one full laboratory report per week. This shift means that laboratory submission rates cannot be meaningfully compared to submission rates in other summers. 

With that caveat, laboratory report completion rates overall for summer 2018 were up strongly at 91% against the a long term average of 80%. Summer term usually outperforms other terms. For many students physical science is their only class. With the class meeting daily, students can focus on completing their reports. Of great benefit this summer was that the computer laboratory was available from 9:30 to 3:30 everyday. The physical science class often met in the computer laboratory where I used the SMARTboard to share video presentations on physical science topics. My sincere thanks to the instructional coordinator and the Kosrae campus team for making this accommodation in their schedule. The class effectively had two key rooms at its disposal every day - the science laboratory and the computer laboratory. The success enjoyed by the students in this course was made possible by this arrangement.

Laboratory submission (completion) rates for terms since fall 2014

Although all of the technology used in the course this summer was new to all of the students, twenty of the twenty-one students rapidly learned to use Schoology, Google Docs, and Desmos. These twenty students had above average submission rates from laboratory one onwards against historic submission rates. This suggests that these twenty students were quickly able to use the technology.

Age distribution in SC 130 Physical Science Kosrae campus summer 2018

One student submitted no laboratory reports and struggled academically in the course. Both the mathematics underlying the systems being studied proved difficult for him and the technology in use in the course. Although the student who struggled was an older student, he was not the oldest in the class. The class as a whole had an average of age of 30 years old, which is older than the 21 to 22 year old average I typically see in courses at the national campus.


2. Define and explain concepts, theories, and laws in physical science.

In the past an item analysis of the final examination has provided information on the extent to which students are able to define and explain concepts, theories, and laws in physical science. The adoption Schoology Institutional provides an alternate insight into achievement of this outcome. This outcome was assessed six times via in-class tests during the term.

Mastery settings in Schoology

A student was deemed to have met expectations by obtaining at least 70% on the test. A student was deemed to have exceed expectations at 80% or higher. Mastery was set at five of six per performances above 70%.

One could make a philosophical argument that student learning outcomes are binary, either the students can or cannot demonstrate the learning outcome. On an outcome, "The student will be able to construct a cabinet" either the student can construct a cabinet or cannot. The complication comes in that not all cabinets will necessarily be of equal quality. At some point one is left determining what the minimum acceptable quality is for a cabinet. And quality leads down a rabbit hole best left to those who have read Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Performance on four course level outcomes for 21 students. Blanks for student number three are due to no work submitted for those course learning outcomes. 

  1. Explore physical science systems through experimentally based laboratories using scientific methodologies
  2. Define and explain concepts, theories, and laws in physical science.
  3. Generate mathematical models for physical science systems and use appropriate mathematical techniques and concepts to obtain quantitative solutions to problems in physical science.
  4. Demonstrate basic communication skills by working in groups on laboratory experiments and by writing up the result of experiments, including thoughtful discussion and interpretation of data, in a formal format using spreadsheet and word processing software.

Summary of performance on course learning outcome two

For summary reporting, Schoology's mastery summary does not tally the "green star" counts but rather the overall average.

The focus in physical science is on science as a process, as a system of experimentally generated and verified knowledge, not as a collection of memorized facts. The course is not content free, but the heavier emphasis is on data gathering, fitting mathematical models, and writing up results in reports. Once science becomes a collection of memorized and regurgitated factoids, then all collections of memorized and regurgitated factoids are equally valid. At that point one is left choosing among factoids to "believe" in and the result are those who "do not believe in science" whether that science is climate change, evolution, or any other area of science. Thus the course focuses on knowledge generated by the students and is guided in part by the concepts of non-overlapping magisteria and a constructivist epistemology.

The students can see in the point distribution wherein laboratory reports carry up to 73 points per report while tests did not exceed 50 points per test this term. Thus the students focus on the reports, which is a design intent of the course, with less focus on tests. As course learning outcome two was assessed only by tests, this student focus on reports might explain the weaker performance on CLO 2.


3. Generate mathematical models for physical science systems and use appropriate mathematical techniques and concepts to obtain quantitative solutions to problems in physical science.

While the eleven assessment above provides some data on this course learning outcome, this outcome supports the general education program learning outcome "3.2 Present and interpret numeric information in graphic forms." With this focus in mind, a pre-assessment and post-assessment was included in the course. In the past the post-assessment was embedded in the final examination, as seen in the final examination of fall 2017. With a decision made during spring term 2018 to redesign and repurpose the final examination, the post assessment was integrated into a test at the end of the week six.

The class also learned the physical and chemical processes involved in converting banana pseudostem fiber into paper products

The students were unaware that the pre-assessment questions would appear on the test at the end of week six with the idea being to attempt measure what the students know and can do without studying the pre-assessment material specifically.

Banana fiber paper being laid down on a vacuum table

SC 130 Physical Science this summer included a focus on the mathematical models that underlie physical science systems. Laboratories one, two, four, five, seven, nine, and eleven have linear relationships. A number of assignments in the course also have linear relationships. The students also encounter a quadratic relationship in laboratory three, now modeled as a quadratic using Desmos' ability to regress to any arbitrary function. By the end of the course students have repeatedly worked with linear relations. One relationship, one equation, at a time, not "problems one to thirty, even problems only." Every equation is built from data that the students have gathered. From the concrete to the abstract, repeated throughout the term, providing cognitive hooks on which to "hang" their mathematical learning.

Rebecca and Sally explore object and image distance relationships for a mirror

Performance on the pre-assessment was nothing short of abyssmal.

Pre-assessment performance spring 2017 - summer 2018 and post-assessment performance summer 2018

Pre-assessment performance was the worst seen ever in the physical science course, including data that predates the data in the image above. The students were academically significantly weaker than the cohorts who had taken the class at the national site. This is perhaps to be expected. The Kosrae site has lacked a full time science teacher since 2014. For many of the students in the class this is the last class they need in order to graduate. Some students have effectively been on hiatus from college coursework while waiting for an instructor for this course. Many of the students are older students returning to complete an incomplete program. One student noted that they had last taken a college math class seventeen years ago. Thus that five questions on the pre-assessment saw not a single correct answer should not be surprising.

The one outlier is plotting (x,y) scatter graph points - the students were almost all very capable of doing this on the pre-assessment.

What is hopeful is the strong improvement seen on the post-assessment, especially given that the students handled this material cold - without preparation. The course delivered a strong performance on course learning outcome three and general education outcome 3.2.

The post-assessment does not fully answer whether there will be long term student retention of the ability to present and interpret numeric information in graphic forms. There is only the hope that the structure of the material will leave a longer lasting impression for the students.


4. Demonstrate basic communication skills by working in groups on laboratory experiments and by writing up the result of experiments, including thoughtful discussion and interpretation of data, in a formal format using spreadsheet and word processing software.

Course level learning outcome four focuses on communication, specifically writing. In the late 1990's assessment data at the college suggested some students were graduating with limited writing communication skills. As noted by the languages and literature division at that time, two college level writing courses in the general education core cannot by themselves produce collegiate level writers. Writing must occur across the curriculum, across disciplines. In 2007 SC 130 Physical Science at the national campus was redesigned to put an emphasis on writing. A "fill-in the blank" cook book style laboratory manual was replaced by laboratories which led to laboratory reports constructed using spreadsheet and word processing software.

Typical head end of a laboratory report in Google Docs

The January 2018 adoption of Schoology Institutional provided access to the Google Drive Assignments app. An earlier article covered the use of Google Drive Assignments in the course.

Course level student learning outcome four was directly evaluated up to nine times on rubrics used to mark laboratory reports.

Achievement on course student learning outcome four

Of the 21 students in the course, 20 students met or exceeded expectations on this outcome. One student, noted earlier, made no laboratory report submissions. Given that the student was older, there is a natural inclination to presume that the technology used was an issue. The availability of the computer laboratory, however, provided an opportunity for one-on-one assistance with the technology early on in the course. The other twenty students made the transition to using the technology, seeking help and assistance as they required such aide.

One of the intents of the course is to prepare students for the jobs and careers that will be available once they graduate and beyond during their lives. Jobs that require a college education typically include the requirement that the employee be able to successfully engage with technology. A student who has completed SC 130 Physical Science will be more comfortable with technology as a result of the course.

Affective Domain Assessment

SC 130 Physical Science functions as a science with laboratory requirement for the general education core at the college. The only major required to take the course is an associate of applied science in telecommunications technology two year program. This term no students in the telecommunications technology program were in the course. One of the intents of the course is to reach out to students who may not enjoy science as a subject and show them science in a new light.

At the end of the term the students were asked to respond to the following questions:

1. Before I took this class my attitude towards science was:
☐ Positive: I liked science
☐ Neutral
☐ Negative: I did not like science

2. During the semester:
☐ I enjoyed physical science class
☐ Neutral
☐ I did not enjoy physical science class

3. During the semester:
☐ I was glad I signed up for physical science class
☐ Neutral
☐ I was not glad I signed up for physical science class

4. After taking this class my attitude towards science is:
☐ Positive: I like science
☐ Neutral
☐ Negative: I do not like science

Attitudes toward science before, during, and at term end, n=16

Prior to the term nearly 70% of the students had a neutral or negative attitude towards science. With the term underway only one student was neutral as to whether they enjoyed the course. All 16 students who completed this survey were glad they took the course and had a positive attitude towards science class after having taken the course.

Many of the students this summer are pre-teacher preparation majors. A teacher who does not like science and/or feels that they "cannot do science" is less likely to be effective in producing scientifically literate students - however one chooses to measure scientific literacy and critical thinking skills. Shifting attitudes towards science, and showing future teachers how simple laboratories can be done in the classroom, are also design intentions of the course.

Desmos and Google Drive Assignments

The course this summer used a mix of online technologies including Desmos graphing calculator, Schoology, and Google Drive Assignments (an LTI app for the Schoology Institutional platform, not available in Schoology Basic). An end of term survey asked students what they like and disliked about Desmos and the use of Google Drive Assignments/Google Docs.

Desmos pros

Students found Desmos easy to use. The students liked be able to generate graphs quickly from their data, they appreciated the wide range of mathematical capabilities of Desmos, and found Desmos to be helpful.

Desmos cons

Most students did not have issues with the use of Desmos. Most of the students were using the Desmos website and thus the dominant dislike was the slow load times due to the bandwidth issues here on the island of Kosrae. Kosrae is connected only by satellite to the Internet, and the bandwidth available is quite limited.

Google Drive Assignments/Google Docs pros

The students found much to like about Google Drive Assignments/Google Docs including automatic saving of their documents and a sense that their documents were secure and safe from loss (flash drives tend to get lost or otherwise missing, often costing a student all of their work). Google Docs was easy to use, better than Microsoft Word, and a fast way to produce documents.

Google Drive Assignments/Google Docs cons

By and large the students had few complaints about Google Drive Assignments in Schoology and Google Docs. Bandwidth issues were the leading concern.

As one who used Schoology Basic for four years, the single most important capability that Schoology Institutional has delivered for me in terms of the student experience with assignments is Google Drive Assignments. I use this app for every assignment in my statistics class which utilizes both Google Sheets and Google Slides. I also use this app for every laboratory report in physical science class. Through use of this app I am able to support students through two, three, even four or more drafts of a laboratory report without the marking load becoming excessive. Google Drive Apps turbocharges the writing, revising, and ultimately the learning process.

The other upside to the use of Google Drive Assignments/Google Docs is that the interface performs better than the standard PDF viewer which is invoked by Schoology's default assignment viewer. The PDF viewer is the only way to view assignments in Schoology Basic and often fails to load in low bandwidth situations. This summer I have taken the GDA/Google Docs interface into very low bandwidth environments such as at the family home down in Malem, Kosrae, and been able to access and mark assignments. The GDA LTI app along with the underlying Google Docs technology loads incrementally and, at least under Chrome, apparently using compression, permitting a functional interface even in bandwidth conditions approaching that of a 1990s dial-up modem.

Favored and Least favored laboratories

Some insight into the impact of the laboratories on learning can be gleaned from the reaction students had to the laboratories. At term end, the students were asked to provide feedback on a favorite laboratory and a least favorite laboratory.

  1. Laboratory one: Density of soap
  2. Laboratory two: Velocity of a rolling ball on the sidewalk
  3. Laboratory three: Acceleration of gravity by dropping a ball 
  4. Laboratory four: Investigation of momentum of colliding marbles in, marbles out
  5. Laboratory five: Force of friction
  6. Laboratory six: Cooling curves for water in cups
  7. Laboratory seven: Using a GPS to determine meters per minute of latitude or longitude
  8. Laboratory eight: Clouds, precipitation, and cloud drawings
  9. Laboratory nine: Sound, clapping wood blocks to determine the speed of sound 
  10. Laboratory ten: RGB and HSL colors on computer monitors
  11. Laboratory eleven: Reflection in a mirror 
  12. Laboratory twelve:  Electricity and the KUA field trip
  13. Laboratory thirteen: Chemistry, acid and base detection using flowers
  14. Laboratory fourteen: Exploring a theory: Leluh GPS exercise
  15. Laboratory fifteen: Site swap notation 

Why a student chose that laboratory as a favorite...

[01] I learned a lot from it. I did not even realize that some soaps can float.
[03] We have a lot of time to work on it, even in groups. All of us have a chance to drop the ball or get hands-on with the timers.
[04] Fun to play with marbles and also it was very interesting to know that the number of inbound marbles equals to the number of outbound marbles.
[07] We were actively engaged and I do enjoy using the GPS to plot coordinates in order to find something. Adventurous!
[07] My first time to use a GPS and of course it is really a run thing to use.
[07] I like this lab because it was very challenging to find Binky.
[09] I just learned that we could measure the speed of sound. I thought it's impossible.
[09] My first time to make my report well, also I enjoy making the data for this laboratory.
[09] My first time to learning about the speed of sound.
[09] I just learned that the speed of sound can be measured over distance with time.
[09] What we were doing was fun and experiencing.
[10] Because I have learned different colors and some of the colors that I've learned are new to me.
[13] More interesting when mixing different products into something to find what color it gives.
[13] It's amazing how the acids and the bases changed the color of the flower. I loved seeing it.
[13] Because of the change in color, it's amazing.
[14] Very interesting and I learn a lot from this field trip.
[14] The trip was awesome, very interesting, educational, and very important to this generation and beyond. That trip enabled myself for the first time to enter Lelu ruin and heard some stories as well by our professor and tour guide.

Why a student chose that laboratory as a least favorite...

[nn] None. I like all the laboratories because I learned something from each.
[04] I missed class that day.
[04] It seems boring and not much to do like the other laboratories.
[05] Confusing to me.
[07] I was confused about what we were going to do and hard for me to solve these problems on the test.
[07] I think it will be much easier for the students if they knew the magnetic north before they started utilizing the GPS and maneuver around looking for Binky.
[08] I don't like drawing simply because I am not good at it.
[09] I was not here and while doing my laboratory report I did not know what to say.
[09] I really don't get to know how to use the GPS and the calculations for latitude and longitude.
[12] It takes time for us to compute the kiloWatt hours.
[15] I really don't like the last lab because I really do not know how to juggle.
[15] Because do the kaka furo thing.

Reaction statements

The students were asked to respond to one of seven reaction statements:

  1. My learning of the content was most helped when… … because… 
  2. The activity that contributed the most to my learning was… … because… 
  3. The biggest obstacle for me in my learning the material was… … because… 
  4. I was most willing to take risks with learning new material when… … because… 
  5. During the first day, I remember thinking… … because… 
  6. What I think I will remember five years from now is… … because… 
  7. What is something you learned to do in this course that you could not do before? … because… 

These qualitative reactions provide some insight into the student's thinking and provide more explanatory power than raw numbers.

My learning of the content was most helped when…

...learning different things. I really enjoyed this course. I believe I would have done better if I know a lot. The instructor is always caring for his class. The website was very helpful. I like the video from the YouTube, it helped us understand what he was lecturing on. I also hope that someday I will see Dana again.
...we do the lab exercise, because I can see exactly what it is about. When doing discussion I do understand but not really clear. When doing lab, I can see those movements, results, and add something else that look the same. 
...Mr. Lee Ling would actively engage his full attention in each student's difficulties. I personally experienced this attention and it helped me to better understand the SLOs of the class. With the extent of his positive attitude to put theories into practical day-to-day situations further interested me as a student to "keep at it." I enjoyed this class fully, and really hope Mr. Lee Ling would remain the instructor for any science or math class I may encounter in the future.

The biggest obstacle for me in my learning the material was…

...watching YouTube videos. Because every time we watch a video, it is easy for me to get sleepy or tired. deal with a computer or utilizing it in order to accomplish any work I need to do. However, after asking fellow classmates, friends on how to do such computer stuff (or its operation), I'll tell you, I love it, it was fun to utilize computer. And the best part of it was I found myself forced to keep learning the computer and its use.

During the first day, I remember thinking…

...about how I am going to pass this class because science is one of the subjects that I really do not do good at. Your teaching has changed what I felt about this class.
...about dropping the class. I was afraid that I might fail. But during the summer I began to realize that the class/course was interesting and useful for me. So instead of dropping the class I tried to learn as much as I can, thanks to you!
...about passing this course because it is my first time doing lab along with the reports and using Desmos to make our own graph. When it comes to science I feel like it is not interesting. But when I take this course during the semester so far I enjoyed everything we did in class.

What I think I will remember five years from now is…

...the formula for calculating the Watts of something because I find it very important to know the amount of Watts an electrical object has in order to know how much money I will be spending on electricity.
... The GPS because I have never done it before.

What is something you learned to do in this course that you could not do before?

...Well, to be honest, everything that I did in this class was all new to me. I never opened Schoology and using Google Docs in my class before, that's why I'm trying to learn more from you and your course. I hope everything I've done will help me in the future or in my own goal. Taking this course was so fun, and everyday I learn something new. I like all of the lab and what we did each day in lab.
...Everything I did in this class was a new experience. I did not even know about Google Docs, Schoology, Desmos, and more. I also learned how to use a GPS to find a specific location, that I had no idea how to use it before. And also, our trips were successful because I get to learn a lot. Who would have thought that banana fibers can turn into papers? Not me. Everything I've learned in this class was something that I could not do before. I really enjoyed this class because I learned new things from it.
...One thing I learned in this course is timing. Of course I learned many thing through this course and it really amazed me how we things using mathematical to explain something clearly. For example, laboratory one the density of soap. After the work that each group did on the density of Dial soap. It came up that each group had their own answers according to their work and whether the answers were less than or greater than one. The student did confirm the answer by throwing the soap into the river. If it floats then it is less than one but if it is more than one the soap sinks.
...This class is very interesting and helpful because I really did learn a lot. I learned how to input quotes, graphs, equations, into Desmos, it was my first time in college or even high school to use the Desmos calculator. I also learn that after mixing different products like baking powder, vinegar, and etc. will give the result of different colors such as red and green indicating each product as basic, acid, or neutral. This course does really help and improve our knowledge.
...For me I learn a lot about this course. Before I don't use or not really interested in electrical devices. Because of this course I do a lot of typing, searching, etc., and learn more about Desmos that it is really useful in graphing, even in solving algebraic equations.
...One thing that I learned from this class that I think is very useful for me is how to find out how much electricity something use. Before attending this course I always wanted to know how to find out on my own how much money our ice box use up a day. Now I know because I learned from this course how to find out.
...I learned that if I did my reports on time, it will be more easier because, I still can remember all the things that we did step by step. Also if I did my reports on time, I will have enough or plenty of time to go over it and double check it to see if there is any errors. If I save it for later, I will forget some of the important things that was done on the project. Also, since we have schedule to do certain projects everyday, I will be loaded with many unfinished projects and this was happening to me before.
...In this course there are lots of things I did it for the first time in my life. Some are Desmos graphing, logging into Schoology, and making reports. I swear that I've never done these things before. I've learned a lot of new things in this class. I'm so excited that I can learn those kind of things from you pahpah Dana. Thank-you for teaching me how to do those things. There are so many new things I've learned in this class and I've never experienced before. Also for the trip to Lelu ruin this is also my first time to go there. I want to thank-you Dana for teaching me such new things to my brain and also new to my eyes. Thank-you so much.

Final examination

In the past the final examination was a comprehensive test designed to assist in measuring course learning outcomes through an item analysis of the exam. This term Schoology Institutional and the Mastery screen provided more direct information on learning. The course was always focused on doing science, on the laboratory reports, and not on tests and quizzes. This term the term ended with 907 points - the final examination was not going to have a significant impact and was no longer needed to inform student learning outcome achievement.

As a result the final exam was recast to focus on an area of concern that arose when marking laboratory eleven: the students were still having difficulty in their analysis, discussion, and conclusion with articulating the intent of the laboratory and reporting that to the reader. Thus the final examination was redesigned to be 13 questions which focused on the intent of each laboratory.

  1. In laboratory one on a graph of volume versus mass for soap, what physical quantity did the slope represent?
  2. In laboratory two on a graph of time versus distance for a rolling ball, what physical quantity did the slope represent?
  3. In laboratory three on a graph of time versus distance for a falling ball, what physical quantity was calculated from a quadratically increasing slope?
  4. In laboratory four a graph of the number of marbles in versus marbles out out a collision provided support for what law in physical science?
  5. In laboratory five on a graph of weight versus force to pull an object across sandpaper, what physical quantity did the slope represent?
  6. In laboratory six a graph of time versus temperature for a cooling cup hot water, provided support for what law in physical science?
  7. In laboratory seven on a graph of arcminutes versus meters as measured by GPS receivers and a surveyor's wheel, what physical quantity did the slope represent?
  8. From laboratory eight, what was the importance in science of drawings such as drawings of clouds?
  9. In laboratory nine, on a graph of time from seeing a clap to hearing a clap versus distance from the clap, what physical quantity did the slope represent?
  10. For laboratory ten, list the seven colors of the Newtonian rainbow in order, the primary colors of light, and the secondary colors of light. Write out the full words.
  11. In laboratory eleven on a graph of object distance versus image distance for a glass decoration marble, what would a slope equal to one have meant for the relationship between the object distance from the mirror and the image distance from the mirror?
  12. For laboratory twelve, list one acid, one base, and one neutral substance.
  13. Site swap mathematics describes patterns for what physical system?

The solutions were:
  1. Density of soap
  2. Velocity of the ball
  3. Acceleration of gravity
  4. Conservation of momentum
  5. Coefficient of friction
  6. Newton's Law of Cooling
  7. Conversion factor from arcminutes to meters
  8. Good, accurate drawings can assist in developing classification systems in science and provide insight into the relationships between objects being studied.
  9. The speed of sound
  10. Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet. Red Green Blue. Yellow Cyan Magenta
  11. The image is an equal distance behind the mirror relative to the object distance in front of the mirror.
  12. [answers will vary such as lime juice, ammonia, and water]
  13. Juggling
The intent was to focus on the meaning of the mathematics at the core of each experiment, but the structure of the questions was new for the students and proved far more challenging and difficult than anticipated. Scored at one point each, correct or incorrect, the minimum score was two correct, the median and the mode was 8, the mean was 7.30, and a maximum of 12. No student obtained a score of 13. This was better than the performance on essentially the same final examination spring 2018. The spring 2018 final had 15 questions with a minimum and mode of 2, a median of 4.5, an average of 5.25, and a maximum of 12 out of 15. Thus performance this summer was far stronger, especially considering that the test had two fewer questions. During the short summer term I did ensure that I emphasized not only what the slope of the current lab meant but the meanings of the earlier slopes.

Overall performance in the course as a percentage versus the raw score on the final examination

The final examination is not well correlated with the course percentage with a correlation coefficient r of 0.407. The coefficient of determination is 0.166. Final examination performance does not correlate well with performance in the course. The final examination focuses tightly on the purpose of each laboratory and thus on the numeric analysis, discussion, and conclusions sections of the laboratory. These sections remain the weakest sections of the laboratory reports and the final examination affirms these weaknesses.

Final examination average from May 2010 to present

As noted above, the nature and structure of the final examination was changed significantly in the spring of 2018. The final examination is no longer based on in-class tests and quizzes as in the past. Spring 2018 with the first running of this new final examination the average plummeted to 35%. This summer the final examination average rebounded to the long term average of 56%.

Final examination performance tend to be slightly higher in the summer. Seven fall terms, eight spring terms, and two summer terms.

Performance on the final examination is usually higher in the summer term than in the fall and spring terms.

My personal thanks to the instructional coordinator, to the dean of the Kosrae campus, and the rest of the team here that has made this summer a successful summer for the students in SC 130 Physical Science. 


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