Mechanics Baseline 2011/12

Last week in Physics 12 we finished mechanics.  From here on in it will be electricity, electricity, electricity.  Shocking, I know….

To finish off mechanics, I gave my students a mechanics baseline test for the second time.  The first time was during the 2nd week of school, back in September.  The results are in, and I suppose that in some ways these results are a measure of:

  • time spent on the topics
  • teacher effectiveness
  • student engagement
  • tutor effectiveness (many of my students have tutors)
  • student aptitude in the time frame and conditions given

For 51 students, the overall average in September was 40%.  In March, there was some mild improvement to 52%.

Four students improved their score by more than double, where one of these students tripled their original score.  A few students regressed, which is sort of hard to believe.  Amazingly, there was one question that every single student answered incorrectly (indentifying the direction of acceleration of an object in circular motion.

I actually meant to give out the Force Concept Inventory test at the beginning of the year, but I gave out the baseline test by mistake.  Oops.  I would assume that the results would be somewhat similar between these two.

I don’t know if I should be happy that the students went from 40% to 52%.  I would have liked to have seen 75%.  I did note that the students looked extremely fatigued during the test, as their lives are under quite a bit of stress right now due to:

  • end of term, and marks will be used for university applications
  • many other tests and projects for other subjects given at the same time
  • many of the students are involved with the school play, and the late nights involved with that

In any event, I’m unhappy with the results and can only hope to improve what I bring to the classroom next year, in order to see bigger gains.