A Science of Subjectivity: A physicist reflects on teaching ...
A SCIENCE OF SUBJECTIVITY: A PHYSICIST REFLECTS ON TEACHING, LEARNING, & Q METHODOLOGY Susan Ramlo, PhD Presentation at Wichita State University, Department of Physics 2019 A LITTLE BACKGROUND 6.5 years as an Industrial Physicist (making radiation detectors) University of Akron faculty PhD in Physics Education Research (dissertation quantitative) Learned about Q methodology from a friend at an education research conference Started using Q for some research studies Learned Qs creator, William Stephenson, double-PhD in physics & psychology Read Stephensons work relating Q to quantum mechanics and viola I was more of a social science methodologist than PER person More philosophy of science focus Im the only physicist within the international Q community.
A LITTLE MORE International Society for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity 2008-9 VP & Conference research chair 2009-10 President Host of 2010 conference in Akron, OH Journal editorial board Involved in mixed methods research in social sciences 1 published book chapter 3 more in process / editor review Over 50 publications including book chapters, journal articles, etc. Journal reviewer Etc. EVERYTHING IS INHERENTLY SUBJECTIVE. WILLIAM STEPHENSON, 1987 PRESENTATION ABSTRACT Q methodology [Q] is an 80-year-old mixed method developed by William Stephenson to scientifically study subjectivity. More specifically, Q offers an empirical method for studying subjectivity by revealing and describing the multiple divergent viewpoints that exist within a group of interest. In Q, a researcher collects statements about the topic,
reduces their number in a way that preserves the communications, and then participants sort those statements into a grid that ranges from something like most like my view to most unlike my view. Qs technique is the sorting of statements related to the topic and its method is the factor analyzing of those sorts to group people with similar viewpoints. Factor analysis in social science research has the same mathematical basis as the mathematics of quantum mechanics (QM). Yet, beyond the mathematical similarities, there are conceptual similarities between Q and QM. This becomes less surprising when we understand that Qs creator had PhDs in both psychology and physics. Within this talk, I will introduce the audience to Q methodology and demonstrate how I have used this somewhat obscure mixed method to investigate and improve teaching and learning of physics. William Stephenson PhD in Physics PhD in Psychology Wanted to study Psychophysics Combined concepts from psychology and quantum mechanics to create Q methodology
Ended up teaching journalism research at University of Missouri Q METHODOLOGY Scientific way to determine divergent perspectives within a group about a topic. Mixed method (qualitative-quantitative hybrid) 80+ years old Used in a variety of fields: education, political science, environmental studies, journalism, marketing Concourse diverse communications Written communications Interviews Open-ended surveys Newspaper articles Q-sample subset of the concourse Typically between 40 & 60 items
Purposefully selected across themes (Fishers Design of Experiments) WHY NOT USE LIKERT-SCALE SURVEYS? Averaging process obscures individual differences Loss of meaning Different viewpoints exist even after the same experience (think student evaluation of teaching results) METHOD: Q METHODOLOGY (2 OF 2) Sorting participants sort the items (on slips of paper or individual cards) into a grid An operation of interpretation Self reference An individuals expression of feeling Post-sort interviews or written comments. P-set (participants) Students, faculty, etc. Analyses
Factor analysis Factor arrays Distinguishing statements Consensus Interpretation of factors (views) Most UNLIKE my view -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 neutral 0
1 2 3 4 Most LIKE my view 5 Q & QM PARALLELS The form of factor theory in Q-methodology fits squarely with the mathematical formulation of quantum theory in physics* Treatment of causality and probability* Status of the uncertainty principle* Inseparability of object and measuring instrument* Quantum States States of Mind (Feeling) Heisenberg (1975): It is a matter of preparing the phenomena of nature so that they can display their structure. Stephenson (1980, 1982): As it is for Q-factor theory in psychology in its search for
natural subjective phenomena. It is a matter of preparing phenomena of mind, so called, so that it can display its structure. *Stephenson (1982) WHATS IN THIS TALK? Evaluating Flipped Physics Classrooms Student Views Regarding Offering a Physics Course Online Evaluating Flipped Physics Classrooms Ramlo, S. (2015). Student views about a flipped physics course: A tool for program evaluation and improvement. Research in the Schools, 22(1), pp 44-54. Ramlo, Susan (2015). Giving students choices in a flipped physics classroom. Ohio Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH. Ramlo, Susan. (2014). Evaluating three flipped physics classrooms: Refining an ongoing Q Study. Paper presented at the International Society for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity / Q Methodology Conference, Salt Lake City, UT. Ramlo, Susan (2014). Putting theory into practice: Describing and evaluating flipped physics classrooms. Paper presented at the Eastern Education Research Association, Jacksonville, FL. Flipped classrooms Pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed.
Lectures are recorded via video (screen-capture) & watched outside of class time. Active learning (including homework collaboration and interaction with instructor) during class time. Innovators include Eric Mazur (peer instruction) & Khan Academy (vodcasts) but flipped classrooms combine their ideas and more What flipped looks like via online classroom management system: In class (if everyone is prepared e.g. watches videos &/or reads book &/or Ramlo Cliff-Notes): Q&A about related videos at start of class Clicker questions examining student understanding of concepts Group work examining student understanding of problemsolving Time to work on homework IN CLASS with peers & instructor. Benefits Instructors interact with students & learn about student difficulties. Instructors more effectively adapt instruction to students.
Pedagogy is better aligned with learning theory. Instructors & students have more flexible applications of technology inside & outside the classroom. Problems Some students are resistant to watching the videos Instructors typically have to make their own videos tailored to the course / learning objectives / students. Limited research on effectiveness and student views of flipped classrooms primarily surveys that examine data in aggregate or based upon demographic information. These Physics Classes First & second semester, non-calculus, freshman physics for nonmajors. Serves variety of Engineering Technology programs (AAS & BS). ~50% of these students had physics in high school (but not necessarily of good quality) Inquiry based laboratories Focus on problem-solving & conceptual understanding associated with force & motion. Classroom Response System (clickers), PhET simulations, group work Previous evaluations indicated that students wanted more group work & more examples.
Initial study: Findings (first semester only) Factor 1 (12): Active Learners Learning & grades are important Interactions with peers & instructors are important for their learning. Factor 2 (7): Unprepared Traditionalists Grades are very important but wish they were better. Realize they were unprepared for the exam & course, in general. Group work seen as beneficial to their learning; They did not feel they had to prepare for the clicker questions (pre-group work assessments). Instructor expectations were fine as
was the level of the course and the level of math required. Clicker questions did not help them assess their learning or understanding. Watching the flipped videos improved their learning Flipped videos were boring & didnt help them learn Prefer having regular, traditional lectures during class time Initial study continued Consensus Grade Distribution Neutral about the textbook Table 1 Factor Matrix with an X Indicating a Defining Sort
Neutral about difficulty finding time to watch the flipped videos outside of class. Q sort Grades are important (but what that means seems to differ between the 2 factors/views). Both views agreed that working on problems / assignments in class with classmates was enjoyable o Factor 1 more about usefulness related to learning o Factor 2 more about social aspects of interacting with peers 5 6 Engineerin g Tech Major Electronics Constructio
n Constructio n Constructio n Electronics Mechanical 7 Mechanical 8 Mechanical 9 Mechanical 10 Mechanical
Predicte d Grade Factor 1 Factor 2 Junior C 0.53 X -0.06 Freshman F 0.30 0.37 X
Freshman D 0.42 X 0.07 F 0.27 0.61 X C B 0.74 X 0.34 -0.14 0.59 X
A 0.62 X -0.14 D 0.15 0.73 X D -0.04 0.76 X B 0.32 0.31
C 0.59 X 0.13 B 0.66 X 0.12 C 0.36 0.47 X B 0.35 X -0.10
Sophomor e Freshman Freshman Sophomor e Sophomor e Sophomor e Freshman Sophomor e Freshman Sophomor e Sophomor e Next steps The instructor needed to make changes to help the Unprepared Traditionalists become more prepared o Presentation on why the course was flipped o Demonstrated how to access the videos and other resources on the online course management
system (Springboard) including flexibility of watching the videos. (Cannot assume even traditional aged students are techy) Preliminary results, interviews, & written comments revealed a need to expand on some of the ideas in the statements especially details about the use of videos and the new suggestion that students take notes during the videos as well as parcing out details about group work: o Active learning versus social / friendship Edited the Q sample to fine tune the investigation Quick comparison New Q sample Premier Q sample 1 Reading the textbook was helpful for my learning in this class. I usually came to class prepared for the clicker questions & group work.
2 I felt like I came to class prepared. 3 I liked being able to watch the video recordings of quiz solutions. 3 4 I prefer to work alone - studying and homework. 4 5 I had a difficult time finding time to watch the lecture videos. 5
1 I preferred reading the textbook (rather than watching the lecture videos). 2 6 Watching the video recordings from our face-toface class times was helpful for my learning in this class. Studying with my classmates was helpful for my learning in this class. Watching videos was too time consuming. The textbook was more helpful for learning than the videos. The level of mathematics in this course was too difficult for me. 6 Reading the textbook helped me learn in this course. 7
I felt unprepared for the level of math in this course. 8 Answering clicker concept-questions in class helped me. 9 I did not like trying to figure out the answers to the clicker concept-questions. 10 Working on problems in class did not help me solve problems in homework, tests, and quizzes. 10 The group work / in-class assignment work in class was helpful for my learning in this class. 11
Group problem solving helped me make friends in this course and that is important to me. 11 I liked working on problems / assignments in class with my classmates. 7 8 9 The clicker questions in class made me feel like I had to be prepared for class. The clicker questions helped me figure out what I understood about the topic(s) and what I didn't understand. 33 Il ik ed ha
vi ng a lo to fe xt ra lec exa tu mp re l e s. st o wa tch 14 The inst ruc to r exp
lain ed t hin gs w ell. in the vi de o Summary of Take#2 Focus on 2nd semester students (many of whom were in initial study) 42 statements in Q sample (same as initial) Unchanged sorting grid Sorted at final exam Added new Likert scale responses to the following : Answer the following where the scale goes from 1 (NEVER) to 5 (ALWAYS) - circle your response 1) I read the textbook (not just the problems assigned) 1 2 3 4 5
2) I watched the lecture videos for the various chapters 1 2 3 4 5 3) I tried to complete all of the homework assignments 1 2 3 4 5 4) I was excited about taking this course1 2 3 4 5 5) I took notes while watching the lecture videos 1 2 3 4 5 Table 4 Those statements that distinguish Factor 1 from Factor 2 Two factors Distinguishing statements No. 14 18 40 12 25 29 15 8 11 42 39 23
2 31 34 38 41 19 37 24 30 22 5 9 6 36 20 1 10 17 Statement The instructor explained things well. The instructor cared about my learning and success in this course Having the instructor solve select homework problems in class Interactions with the instructor during group problem solving
Discussions with peers in class and lab were important for m I feel like I learned a lot in this class. The lab activities helped me learn concepts in this course. Answering clicker concept-questions in class helped me. Group problem solving helped me make friends in this course I feel like this course is relevant to my degree / future ca I liked having the Power Point slides and other notes availa Being able to ask the instructor questions inside / outside I usually came to class prepared for the clicker questions & I liked having a flipped class where lectures were online an PhET simulations in class and in the videos helped me unders Taking notes while watching the videos helped me learn. I wish we had more time in class for group work. Watching the flipped videos was boring. I should have worked harder in this class - more studying an Watching lectures as videos was better than listening to lec I wish I learned more in this class. The instructor should have made this course easier. I had a difficult time finding time to watch the lecture vid I did not like trying to figure out the answers to the click Reading the textbook helped me learn in this course. I am just hoping to pass this class. I didn't know how to prepare for tests and quizzes in this c I preferred reading the textbook (rather than watching the l
Working on problems in class did not help me solve problems I didn't like this class. Factor 1 Grid Position 5 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 -1
opportunities, different views Factor 1 (+5 & +4) = 17 sorters Factor 2 (+5 & +4) = 6 sorters Comparing F1 to F2 AC E V I T E V I SS PA Two factors F2 (6): Time efficient
F1 (17): Active Learners Positive about course & instructor Focused on learning Liked course design (choices?) Disliked textbook Group work important for their learning Learning takes time & is important (epistemology) Active learners traditionalists Neutral about course & instructor Wish they learned more Preferred text over videos
Hoping to pass Videos boring & take time Time management focus More Traditional? Passive learners Conclusions Revised Q sample provided new insights about student views of the flipped classroom. o Choices are important for motivated students so that they can select the methods that best enhance their learning. o Some students possess nave epistemologies that focus on quick learning, passing tests / courses, and efficiency which they call time management broader than Unprepared traditionalists o These results provide greater detail than the original study as well as those of Enfield (2013), Fulton (2012), & Herreid & Schiller (2013). Changes to the course(s) seemed to assist both types of students: o Better understanding of choices for all of us o Print materials (Power Points) important for Factor 2 students especially o Promotion of taking notes during flipped lectures beneficial for some Student Views Regarding Offering a
Physics Course Online Susan Ramlo, PhD The University of Akron Presentation at EERA 2016 Ramlo, S. (2017). Student views regarding online freshmen physics courses. Research in Science & Technological Education, 35 (4), pp 461476. doi: 10.1080/02635143.2017.1353961. Available at http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/aqz6ZtS5FcxwjU4Jq6uX/full. Ramlo, S. (2016). Students' views about potentially offering physics courses online. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 25(3), pp 489-496. doi: 10.1007/s10956-016-9608-6. Available online at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10956-016-9608-6 & https://rdcu.be/6l0m Status of online university courses 1/4th college students (about 5.4 million students) took at least one distance (online) course during Fall 2012 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2014). Associated with for-profit but their enrollment has been dropping (Blumenstyk, 2016). For profit embedded in traditional public universities (Blumenstyk, 2016) Public university administrators see flexibility,
potential for enrollment growth, and money. 36 Background for the study Increased talk about putting classes online at UA. Students complaining about online as only option for some classes. My Dean started push for online physics. Research question: How do university students who are enrolled in face-to-face engineering technology programs feel about taking courses online, especially courses that are perceived to be difficult like physics? 37 Q Methodology to investigate student views Concourse of statements students & administrators
Q sample selected to represent communications on the topic (45 statements) 47 eng-tech students in 1st & 2nd semester of Technical Physics sorted the statements into a grid. Post-sort survey 60% with prior online course experience 2 3 4
5 5 Most unlik e my view -5 7 5 5 4 3 Most like my
view neutr al -4 -3 -2 -1 0 2 1 2 3 4
5 38 Three factors/views emerged from analyses Factor 1 Keeping it real and face-to-face 23 students Reject the idea of online classes Factor 2 Online could be ok, depending on course and instructor 9 students Its all about the instructor and the course if its the right mix they would be willing if the price is right (lower tuition for online) Factor 3 Online not for STEM classes 4 students No STEM type classes online Humanities / writing-based courses ok
Not interested in social aspects of classroom like other views prefer to work alone. 39 Written comments: Factor 1 Keeping it real and face-to-face Previous online course was a decent course, not horrible but not great I feel that the traditional classroom setting is a richer learning experience than online classes because in a classroom setting, there is interaction and collaboration between peers and instructors which I believe is a crucial part of learning Simply, learning to me is more effective in a classroom setting. 40 Written comments Factor 2 depends on course and teacher #23 = he stated that A good instructor is required regardless of the teaching medium. #36 = described how he likes being in class interacting with people and talking to people outside of class. I like to work in groups to make sure we are all understanding the material. #41 = probably summarized this view the best: I think it would be a bad idea if all classes were online. If the professor isnt that good then the course is gonna be tough and students wouldnt
learn that much. Some online courses are alright depending on the course and instructor. 41 Written comments Factor 3 Online not for STEM #15 = wrote Engineering, physics, or any STEM degree online will deter students and fail miserably. Its like teaching a mechanic to build an engine with a blindfold on 42 Consensus agreement among the factors/views 8 consensus statements 4 from administrators students agree to disagree Students agree that simulated laboratories are not as effective as those using real laboratory equipment (#12, -4, -5, -5; #21, -4, -4, -5). Statement #34 (+5, +4, +5) -students feel they learn best with hands-on activities in the laboratory and classroom. Concern regarding: Difference between interacting with an instructor in an online
class compared to interacting with an instructor in a face-toface class (#25, -5, -3, -4). How future employers would perceive a student who took online classes and/or completed a program partially or completely online 43 Conclusions Three different student views of online These views & consensus are out of sync with the apparent views of administrators (based upon positions of statements from administrators). #43 (I love technology) administrators view; grid positions: 0, +2, +2. Just because our generation likes our phones and computers that doesnt mean we want to take classes on them. Administrator views of students affected by goals related to enrollment, tuition, and budgets? Future research have administrators sort statements http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10956-016-9608-6. 44 Inside Higher Education High School Students' thoughts about online cla
sses 45 WHAT IS NEXT? Examining large lectures versus smaller lectures in teaching first two semesters of physics Survey of instructors Student Evaluation of Teaching (using Q methodology) Possible instructor Q sort (maybe online) Continue to examine theoretical aspects of Q methodology especially in relation to QM and science. QUESTIONS?
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