Modeling Workshop Project_PI Prof. David Hestenes

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					A slight edit in Dec. 2008 of the final report to the Medtronic Foundation on July 31, 2001.

To: Kathleen O'Keefe, Senior Program Officer, Medtronic Foundation, Minneapolis, Minnesota
From: Jane Jackson and David Hestenes, Department of Physics, Arizona State University,
Tempe 480-965-8438
Subject: final report for grant: " Physics Modeling for School Technology Infusion II (1999)"

        In 1999 the Medtronic Foundation awarded us $15,000 for classroom technology and
related lab equipment to upgrade science teaching with infusion of technology for 20 high school
physics teachers in and near Tempe, Arizona who have participated in intensive summer
workshops in Modeling Instruction. This award followed a previous award of $15,000 in 1998
for another 15 physics teachers in metropolitan Phoenix.
        This award was in support of the Arizona Science and Technology Education Partnership
(AzSTEP), in which a corps of leaders in school technology are being created to support
continuous improvement of science courses in Arizona high schools. Our goal is for the physics
classrooms to stand as local exemplars of technology in science teaching. The physics teachers
serve as local experts on best use of technology in science teaching. They are immediately
available to provide expert advice and assistance to their colleagues, their schools and their
school districts.
        In January 2001 and in September 2000, expert panels for the U.S. Department of
Education rated our Modeling Instruction Program as one of only two exemplary K-12 science
programs and one of five promising K-12 educational technology programs out of 134 submitted.
For details, visit <>.
        In three to four week summer Modeling Workshops, teachers revamp their high school
physics course to incorporate technology and insights of educational research. Instruction is
organized into modeling cycles that engage students in model development, evaluation, and
application. Students collaborate in planning and conducting experiments, use MBL probes and
software to collect, organize and analyze data, and present to the class their group's experimental
procedure, interpretation, and findings. Modeling Instruction is a detailed implementation of the
National Science Education Standards.
        Since 1998 half of Arizona's 220 physics teachers have participated in modeling
workshops. Two-thirds of the approximately 120 physics teachers within commuting distance of
Tempe have learned Modeling Instruction.

The need for classroom technology
        In surveys that we conducted in 1997 of the 220 Arizona physics teachers, we found that
few of them had adequate classroom technology. Most teachers had at least one or two computers
(though often antiquated like Apple IIs), but they lacked laboratory interfaces, microcomputer

based laboratory (MBL) probes, and software to enable the computers to be used effectively as
scientific tools.
        Modeling Instruction is best implemented with computer lab stations of 3 students. Thus
8 to 10 student-used computers and sets of MBL probes are needed for a typical class of 21 to 27
students. That year AzSTEP started a statewide systemic initiative to cultivate physics teachers as
local leaders of science education reform. We needed help to get technology for new modelers!
        Fortunately, a Medtronic Foundation grant of $15,000 in 1998 and an Arizona
Community Foundation grant of $25,000 in 1998 enabled us to provide computer interfaces and
probes for classrooms of teachers who participated in our workshops that year. Furthermore,
Arizona StRUT, an industry-funded company that provides refurbished computers to schools,
donates 5 computers to each needy physics teacher in our modeling workshops. These incentives
have convinced schools to provide additional classroom technology for physics, and most
teachers have eventually obtained enough computers and probes to implement Modeling
Instruction adequately.
        However, as of 1999 some of our best and most experienced teachers (three of whom had
been using Modeling Instruction since 1992!) still had inadequate numbers of computer lab
interfaces and MBL probes, as well as inadequate ancillary lab equipment. Thus we asked for
funds from the Medtronic Foundation for experienced modelers who were neediest, are the best
leaders, and/or who teach the most students, as well as five new modelers.

Facts about the teachers
        All 20 teachers served by this grant completed at least one intensive four-week modeling
workshop in mechanics. Eleven teachers completed two or more modeling workshops, focusing
on the entire year’s content.
        Five are regional leaders in science reform.
        Five teach in urban public schools with a large proportion of disadvantaged minority
students. (One of these teachers retired last month and will teach part time at a local college. His
successor uses Modeling Instruction.) One teaches at an urban parochial school. Two teach at
charter schools in the fine arts, with high proportions of female students who "hate math". The
other 12 are in suburban public schools.
        Three didn't teach physics in the 2000-01 academic year (they had received their
Medtronic classroom technology in the previous year). Of these, two moved to different schools;
they hope to teach physics in the future, but in the meantime one is using the lab interfaces in her
chemistry courses. The third left physics to become a counselor, reportedly due to
discouragement with her school's unwise implementation of a new physics program. Her
Medtronic equipment is being used by her successor, who participated in our modeling workshop
this summer.
        One teacher who was in the prime of his life died a few months ago of a heart attack; he
learned Modeling Instruction last summer and used it for only one semester. His replacement
participated in our modeling workshop this summer and will use the technology supplied by
Medtronic this year.
        One teacher in a suburban high school is a beginning teacher.

       One suburban teacher didn't provide data. She teaches 150 students each year, and her
enrollment has grown so that a second physics teacher was hired last year. That teacher uses
modeling instruction too.

Good effects of the Medtronic grant
1. Enrollments increased, including percentages of disadvantaged minorities and females.
        Last year about 400 students learned physics by modeling instruction in the five inner city
schools. On average, half of the students were minorities, almost half were girls, and about 55%
were economically disadvantaged. We have data showing that during the past year, the numbers
of physics students increased in two schools (even though one school's total student enrollment
decreased), the percentage of minorities increased in 2 schools, and the percentage of girls
increased in one school.
        In the eight suburban public schools, two charter schools, and one parochial school, about
750 students were taught physics by modeling instruction last year. On average, half were girls.
Our data indicate that during the past year, the number of physics students increased in four
schools and the percentage of girls increased in two schools.
        (Bear in mind that five teachers just learned modeling instruction last summer, and one is
a brand-new teacher, so these data only indicate a trend. Besides, there are yearly fluctuations,
and course assignments vary from year to year. Some schools have more than one physics
teacher, and that teacher may absorb increasing enrollments without our knowing about it. Also,
modelers who have used this method for years showed enrollment increases in previous years
and their enrollment has since stabilized. For all these reasons, our data don't reveal as much as
one might think. Personal interviews can tell the story better sometimes.)

        Enrollments increase because students are more motivated. Here's an inner city example.
In this high school, 60% to 70% of the physics students last year were disadvantaged minorities.

     Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2001
     Subject: Medtronic comments
         A common term used by students in describing science equipment at ___ High
     School is: "This is ghetto!!!" Which can be translated to mean that the equipment
     is sub par and does not meet a very high standard. The equipment provided by
     the Medtronic Foundation really changed the students' attitudes about
     performing labs in the physics classes. With the technology, the students were able
     to obtain data with better precision. With better data, students were able to develop
     models which showed a clear relationship for the given variables. Students felt
     better about what they were doing as they were able to develop legitimate models
     for themselves. This gave the students the opportunity to use their own models to
     explain the physical world around them.
         Without technology, the precision of the data is often lowered and clear models
     are difficult to obtain. This requires students to learn by faith rather than by
     experimentation. In short, the technology empowered the students with the tools

     to act as real scientists to discover scientific principles for themselves. Now I
     often hear the phrase: "Wow, I can't believe we have this at ___ High School!!!"

     An inner city teacher - leader who learned Modeling Instruction in 1995 recently told us
about his success in the past two years since the influx of technology and modeling. We asked
him to write it down for you. He wrote:

      ___ High School is an inner city school with about 60% minority population,
     extensive Title I funding and an enrollment that has been static for several years at
     about 1,000 students. In spite of these challenges, the enrollment in physics has
     doubled! Along with the doubling student population in physics, the number of
     girls, minorities and disadvantaged kids has also nearly doubled. The message
     that technology is neat and necessary has been finally accepted. Modeling
     instruction methods are sending strong messages that physics is not only enjoyable
     but is doable. Students have been successful when modeling is combined with

2. Schools gave much financial support for classroom technology.
       More than $23,000 was provided by 14 high schools in matching funds to supplement the
Medtronic technology given to the teachers! This included $8700 from the 5 urban public
schools. Most schools bought additional probes and laboratory interfaces. (Several teachers
received 5 donated refurbished computers from Arizona StRUT at about the same time, and this
was an added incentive for schools.)
       Here are examples from suburban schools. Quotes are from our e-mailed surveys to them.

   Costshare: $800
   Date: Fri, 04 Feb 2000
      My school just ordered me some equipment from the promised matching funds. I
   am getting a scan converter to connect to my computer and classroom TV. I'll be able
   to better show simulations, GA graphs, some internet information and how to use my
   SensorNet ULI's. I'll also be able to demo "Graphs and Tracks" if I get it. May have
   to look for another grant to purchase it. They also purchased 4 more force probes
   for my CBL's to go with the 4 you ordered, so I'll have one for each lab group. I have
   some great plans for them. I'm also getting some link cables and power supply for
   some refurbished printers that were donated to us. Soon I'll have completed
   collecting my own set of computers and printers for my lab, all for myself! Not
   to reserve for specific days. They are old Macs, but good enough for the ULIs and
   GA, some spreadsheets, and simulations.

   Costshare: $5000


   Costshare: $1000
   School provided: "Additional LabPro, graphing calculators."

   Costshare: $2500
   School provided: "probes - force sensors, motion sensors, photogates, temperature for
   the six computers."

3. Ninety-three teachers of other sciences and math learned technology from these
Most of the 15 physics teachers for whom we have data report that they taught other science
teachers in their building something that they'd learned in their modeling workshop - usually
involving classroom technology. Seven of these teachers led significant workshops in their
school, school district, and/or region.

       For example, a suburban teacher reported that he led these 2 activities last year:
a) School inservice on whiteboarding, questioning.
b) School presentation on how students can use technology for data collection and analysis. He
said, "Most teachers at my school use computers to present notes on PowerPoint or have their
students write reports or research on computers. I am showing teachers how to have students
use computers to collect, organize and analyze data."

       An inner city teacher said that in his school he led a "math cadre on CBLs for
science/math integration".

      Recently an inner city teacher e-mailed me that he led a 1-week workshop for thirteen 9th
grade math and science teachers in his school district. This was a follow-up of a similar
workshop that he led last summer. He said, "We used CBL II's and Lab Pro's with TI 83+'s. The
responses were all excellent and I hope to repeat this workshop next year..."

4. Students' gains in understanding doubled, compared to traditional physics instruction.
         This past year, eight of the teachers gave the Force Concept Inventory (FCI), a highly
reliable objective test of conceptual understanding used worldwide, as a posttest to their 430
students. The class average fractional gains for all three levels of physics: regular (algebra-
based), honors (trigonometry-based), and AP were at least double those under traditional lecture
- lab - demo physics instruction. This is in agreement with our previous data on 20,000 students
of Arizona physics teachers and nationwide teachers.

    For example, one brand-new modeler, an experienced older teacher in a suburban school,
achieved class average student fractional gains that are triple those under traditional instruction,
for her 70 regular physics students and her 18 AP students. She accomplished this success while

teaching under less than ideal circumstances: Arizona StRUT provided her with 5 refurbished
Pentiums, which are not nearly enough for her classes of up to 30 students. She wrote recently:

     Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2001
     These are my scores for the FCI. I gave it the 2nd day of school in August and then
     as part of the final in May. The results were quite an improvement but I think if I
     continue to develop my skills in modeling for next year they may be better still.
     Many students still maintain many of their misconceptions. Also I have to work on
     getting smaller groups. This may not be possible because classes have
     increased in size. Some classes had 4 to 5 to a computer. All scores for the AP B
     are for a first year course.
          Jane I really want to thank you for your assistance and want to thank
     Medtronic for the equipment. I have really enjoyed using the modeling
     concept this year and hope to use it in my Chemistry classes next year. I will be
     having two regular Physics classes and one AP B Physics class which I believe are
     quite large and two Chemistry classes. We are short a chemistry teacher for a
     section therefore I don't have the luxury of four smaller Physics classes.

        The parochial school teacher, who has used Modeling Instruction for two years, wrote
about her students' good gains on the FCI. Note that some of her top students were artistic. This
is a type of student who traditionally doesn't do well in (and doesn’t like) physics.

     Date: Sat, 02 Jun 2001
     Dear Jane,
      ... Either I am getting to be a wizard teacher to some or (as I suspect is more true)
     the kids really learned something this year. Of the top 5, 2 of the students are
     truly artists and I gave them a great deal of respect just for staying with a course
     that was totally out of their mode of thinking.

        Some teachers couldn't provide Force Concept Inventory data. Here are 2 examples from
inner city teacher - leaders, both of whom consistently have class average student fractional gains
that are double to triple those under traditional instruction.

   Date: Sat, 21 Jul 2001
   Hi Jane,
   I didn't give the FCI this year. Our district is so test happy that the time to give
   it slipped by...

   Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2001
      ... About my FCI's for 2001: I went to school on Thursday to find that the exams I
   left, as per instructions of the principal, were gone. Thrown away I assume.

   You known that when retired guys are gone all of our stuff is no longer important. So
   I cannot give you any reliable scores since the pretest scantrons were stapled to the
   final exams scantrons (remember, the final exams included the FCI and CASTLE). I
   can only say qualitatively that this was one of my best classes I've had in some

5. Teachers were pleased with Modeling Instruction and with technology.
        Here is an example of teacher satisfaction, from an experienced teacher at a charter
school for the fine arts where all students take physics but many have traditionally hated (been
afraid of?) math. She is a new modeler, and she had told me earlier in the year that her students
loved working with the classroom technology to learn physics, and for the first time in their lives,
math made sense to them. Her class average fractional gains on the Force Concept Inventory
were 2 1/2 times higher than those under traditional instruction.

   Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001
   Dear Jane,
      You asked me to give you some of my thoughts about how and what my students
   learned due to the use of modeling vs. traditional methods.
      You already have my students' FCI results and so it is apparent that they have
   improved their understanding of force. I had some who were still not "Newtonian" by
   the end of the year, but each student improved. I know from the articles I have read
   on the FCI that they improved more than would be expected using traditional
   methods, so have made the assumption that the modeling I used in my classroom this
   year made the difference.
      If I could have videotaped the students performing the constant velocity lab and
   compared it to a tape of the circular motion lab, for instance, the difference in their
   competence with experimental design, set-up, performance and evaluation would
   stand out. I was so pleased to observe them taking up a question and figuring out
   how to go about answering it. They got used to blatently using scientific method
   without thinking about the process. Their ability to determine variables, figure out the
   variables that could interfere with results, and understanding which were most
   important to the results grew dramatically. I could stand back and watch this happen!
      The students became very adept at using the probeware and computer
   programs to gather and analyze the data they collected. They demonstrated the
   ability to work in teams to solve problems, and to be responsible to each other for
   completing their tasks. They clearly showed that they could ask questions and find
   the means to answer them themselves. What more could we want for critical thinking
      I felt much better about the conceptual understanding of physics that my
   students took away this year compared to other years, because I could really
   evaluate it. Modeling uses much more verbalizing and questioning, and it allowed me
   to evaluate my students level of understanding much better. I really saw the
   misconceptions mentioned in the literature, but this time I dealt with them in a
   different and more helpful way. I knew to look for student misconceptions actively.

A case study of an exemplary teacher
        In our Medtronic proposal, we promised that the commitment of the participants’ high
schools to technology infusion and educational reform would be assessed by several measures,
a) purchase of appropriate computer hardware and software for the teacher's classroom,
b) technology training of other science teachers in the participant’s school,
(c) adoption by local teachers in other sciences (and at other grade levels) of some of the teaching
techniques and technology,
(d) implementation of the Modeling Method of instruction in the teacher‘s physics classes.

          In the above paragraphs we've given data and specific examples of all 4 measures. But
data and short examples don't tell the whole story. We'd like to end with a case study, to give a
fuller picture of what an excellent teacher deals with in his/her school, and what he/she is capable
of, in integrating classroom technology effectively into instruction.
         Of the 75 local teachers who use the exemplary Modeling Method of Physics Instruction,
Elizabeth (not her real name) was our top priority to receive classroom technology on this
Medtronic grant, as she was extremely needy, an extraordinarily effective teacher, and one of our
best leaders!
         Elizabeth teaches physics at a school that's rapidly becoming an urban school; she
estimates that 70% of her 100 physics students this year are economically disadvantaged. She
learned Modeling Instruction in 1992.
         To illustrate her need: She is her district's expert on Macintoshes; the school district paid
her expenses and fees to attend an intensive 2-day out of state training session in 1998. Yet until
1999 she had to use Apple II's (which she bought with her own money!) for her physics
courses. In 1999 she finally got 9 donated older Macintoshes (4 LCII's and 5 LCIII's).
         Elizabeth is one of the most effective modeling teachers in the nation. Her physics
enrollment increased from one section to four sections after she learned Modeling Instruction.
Every year, her regular physics students achieve class average fractional gains in understanding
of the force concept that are triple the average gains under traditional instruction, so she is in the
top 1% in the nation!
     She's an outstanding leader. She led a 4-week ASU modeling workshop each summer for the
past 3 years, for 24 high school physics teachers per year. Last summer she piloted a 1-week
introductory modeling workshop for 9th grade science and math teachers in her district. Last year
she led Casio workshops for 100 teachers, on their hand-held data collectors, graphing
calculators and digital cameras.
     In the light of her outstanding qualifications and accomplishments, read her note concerning
her difficulty in getting updated computers for her classroom.

     Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2000
     Hi Jane,
     ... My principal is interested in the matching funds you proposed and I must order
     my part of the match this week through my school. The only problem is, I am not
     sure whether to order based on my present Mac LC's or the PowerMacs. If the
     PowerMacs are available I feel strongly that I will get them. There is only one
     possible source of them though. We have a business teacher who has several (like

     15-20 I believe) and she wants to replace them with PC format computers as she
     doesn't understand Macs at all. Since business has opportunity for funds that the
     rest of us do not, she may be able to do it. If so, I could get 9 PowerMacs from her.
     But nothing is certain, ever. So, I think I will order based on having my LC's and if
     I do get them, I will trade the equipment back in ...

    The story has a happy ending. Elizabeth did get the used PowerMacs;10 of them for her
classes of up to 30 students. This enabled her to lead last summer's modeling workshop in her
classroom (an excellent central location!). The Medtronic grant provided $2000 for LabPro
computer interfaces. Her school matched with $2000 for MBL probes.

Conclusions about classroom technology for teachers in our program
        Of all technologies used in the physics classroom, probeware has the most beneficial
effect on students' learning. The ability to collect and analyze data about physical behavior
profoundly transforms a student's ability to "see" nature.
        For many teachers in our program, getting probes is hard unless teachers are fortunate to
have a benefactor like the Medtronic Foundation to jump-start the process by providing an
incentive for their school to match funds. The results can be excellent, as we've seen for most of
these 20 teachers. Their schools contributed 1 1/2 times the dollar amount of the Medtronic
grant! The teachers now have enough basic classroom technology to implement modeling
instruction adequately.

        Probeware must be used with computers or handheld data collectors, of course. Most
physics teachers who use Modeling Instruction prefer computers for their ease of use, visibility of
display, and ability to use simulation software. But it is hard for physics teachers to get sufficient
computers for their classroom. Even with the help of donated computers from Arizona StRUT, a
few teachers among our 20 still must have 4 to 5 students at one computer workstation. Some
teachers gradually add computers over a few years - some pay for computers out of their own
        A related problem is the difficulty of physics teachers, even those who are the best leaders
like Elizabeth, in getting updated computers. Six of our 20 teachers have computers that are
more than 6 years old; i.e., that predate Pentiums and PowerMacs. Some are using 486s; one has
Mac Classics and LCII's. (At least they’re not Apple IIs!) Our goal for physics classrooms to
stand as local exemplars of technology in science teaching will be realized only gradually, it
appears, until the school culture improves.

        The bottom line is, we and the 20 teachers are grateful to you and the MicroRel
committee for awarding us $15,000 for MBL probes, computer lab interfaces, and related lab
equipment with which to implement Modeling Instruction. You’re making a huge positive
difference in student learning here!


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