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Scaffolded Support of Physics Problem-Solving to Encourage Physics, Engineering, and Mathematics Majors toward Authentic Problem-Solving and Community

Geer, Susan Marie (2023) Scaffolded Support of Physics Problem-Solving to Encourage Physics, Engineering, and Mathematics Majors toward Authentic Problem-Solving and Community. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Technology has skyrocketed in importance and has changed how we live and grow. Additionally, our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) classrooms are more diverse than ever. However, our curricula and methods for teaching most STEM subjects have not substantially changed over the last 50 years. This paper focuses on the first-year structure for Physics, Engineering, and Mathematics (PEM) majors at Roberts Wesleyan University (RWU). Guided by the Improvement Science Process (Bryk et al., 2015; Mintrop, 2016), I identified several root causes for the weak retention of PEM majors through their first-year Physics and Calculus courses, leading to low enrollment and low persistence. Key findings reveal the insufficiency of traditional lecture presentations without additional support, a need for specific problem-solving development, and a call to involve students in their learning via active learning opportunities. The Physics Education community recognizes the national and international problem structure. Suggested solutions are available but depend on local structure, resources, and faculty. I propose a modification of first-year physics laboratories for PEM majors, incorporating learner-centered modeling approaches, specific problem-solving development, and support through building community.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Geer, Susan Mariesmg152@pitt.edusmg152
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee MemberFernandes,
Committee MemberTrahan, Keithkwt2@pitt.edukwt2
Thesis AdvisorQuigley, CassieCQUIGLEY@pitt.eduCQUIGLEY
Date: 7 July 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 31 May 2023
Approval Date: 7 July 2023
Submission Date: 14 June 2023
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 136
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Problem of Practice, STEM, PEM, Physics Education, Problem-Solving, Inquiry Methods, Modeling Methods, Active Learning, Adaptive Change
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2023 15:34
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2023 15:34


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