Using lesson design to change student approaches to dorm-room design prelabs

Katherine Ansell, Mats Selen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Student approaches to design tasks depend heavily on context – including both physical and conceptual aspects. These effects have been studied in the classroom, but less so in a home setting, where an instructor is not present to facilitate students' design efforts. In this paper, we propose that manipulating contexts within a lesson may be an option to guide student behavior in an at-home setting. We describe an experiment where the order of an at-home assignment was altered to probe how setting contexts with equipment and content domain familiarity influence student approaches to design tasks. By switching the order of a calibration activity and open-ended design activity, we observed that increasing student content and equipment knowledge makes them more likely to choose more sophisticated analysis methods with the new equipment and topic, but also leads to an increase in investigations with surface features similar to the calibration.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jan 3 2018
Event2017 Physics Education Research Conference - Cincinnati, OH
Duration: Jul 26 2017Jul 27 2017


Conference2017 Physics Education Research Conference


  • Home experiments
  • introductory physics laboratories
  • PERC 2017


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