An Evaluation of the Cognition Component of the Physics Resources and Instructional Strategies for Motivating Students (PRISMS) Program in Iowa
Arnold, David Alan
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The problem. The problem of this study was to determine whether the Physics Resources and Instructional Strategiesfor Motivating Students (PRISMS) program influenced the teachers' knowledge of physics. Procedures. Data for this study were collected through pre- and post-questionnaires for twenty-nine teachers and administrators. Pre- and post-assessment instruments were developed to measure the teachers' knowledge of physics content. The purpose for these data collection instruments was to determine if the PRISMS program could contribute to the improvement of physics instruction in Iowa. The data gathered from these instruments tested the hypotheses. The paired-t test examined the change in scores for Hypotheses 3, 4, 5, and 6. Pearson's Product Moment correlation was calculated for the remaining hypotheses in an attempt to determine if relationships existed between major study variables. Descriptive statistics were applied to selected items on the questionnaires as a means of examining changes in opinion scores for teachers and administrators. Findings. The data indicated that the teachers' attitudes toward teaching physics and the PRISMS program decreased from a positive attitude to a less positive attitude The teachers' knowledge of physics increased as a result of PRISMS, and the teachers became more comfortable with presenting physics concepts. The teachers' level of knowledge was influenced by years in teaching physics, and by the number of semester hours taken in college physics. The data indicated that the administrators' pre-program attitudes influenced the teachers' level of knowledge. Finally, the teachers' and administrators' opinions on selected statements decreased from a more positive opinion to a somewhat negative opinion. Conclusion. The results of this study were not sufficient to indicate that the PRISMS program improved physics instruction in Iowa. Recommendations. It is recommended that: (1) researchers investigate the effect that the PRISMS program would have on student learning, (2) comparisons between student achievement scores for districts not utilizing PRISMS be conducted. and (3) researchers must investigate the causes for the decreases in teachers' attitudes and opinions.
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