Examining Teacher Expectations about Physics Homework

Physics Honors Thesis
By: Heather Demarest
Advisor: Noah Finkelstein
University of Colorado at Boulder
Department of Physics, Campus Box 390 Boulder, CO 80309


Abstract. There are many different ways by which students learn physics and developbeliefs about physics. These range from exams to lectures, from labs to homework. Teachers have beliefs about the ideal content for each of these media to contain, as wellas beliefs about what they typically do contain. The purpose of my thesis, therefore, is to examine in detail, a small but vital way that this information is conveyed from teacher tostudent: Homework. First, I design a survey to be administered to teachers of introductory university classes. This survey is designed to acquire data about teachers’expectations and beliefs about their homework content. Next, I administer the survey and simultaneously conduct an interview with each professor in my study. Then, I acquirehomework sets from the teachers’ classes. I rate these homework sets along the same dimensions the teachers were asked to rate them. Finally, I compare the ratings andanalyze them for agreement.


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