measured by the Force Concept Inventory (FCI)—up to 3 years after completing an introductory physics that used the tutorials (Francis, Adams, and Noonan, 1998).

  • In Harvard University physics classes that used a variety of interactive strategies—including the University of Washington tutorials—the gender gap between the FCI scores of male and female students disappeared (Lorenzo, Crouch, and Mazur, 2006).

  • After a large introductory physics course at the University of Colorado that used tutorials, Finkelstein and Pollack (2005) did not observe the shift toward unfavorable attitudes about physics that typically occurs in those courses.

Based on these results, Heron, Shaffer, and McDermott (2008) posited that additional assessments would be valuable in the areas of student reasoning skills, student ability to transfer conceptual knowledge to quantitative problems, and student ability to apply concepts and principles in subsequent courses.

At the workshop, Cummings characterized Tutorials in Introductory Physics as an example of how research can guide the improvement of instruction within the practical constraints of courses with large enrollments. She explained that the tutorials and other research-based instructional materials are most successful when the developers invest sustained effort in their continuous improvement and in supporting adopters. She ended by noting that the growth in STEM departments of groups and individuals who devote their scholarly effort to conducting research on teaching and learning in the science disciplines is the truly promising practice in STEM education (Heron, Shaffer, and McDermott, 2008).


Before taking questions from the audience, the panelists reflected on each others’ presentations. Cummings remarked about the dearth of published concept inventories in chemistry and noted that researchers in all disciplines would benefit from the information Libarkin and Reed-Rhoads presented about the process of developing concept inventories. Reed-Rhoads agreed that disseminating information about the development and appropriate use of concept inventories is important. She stressed the need for a “Good Housekeeping seal of approval” for concept inventories. She and Libarkin also discussed the need to warehouse and analyze the data collected from concept inventories. Libarkin added that she would like to see the disciplinary communities be trained to use and improve the tools.

David Mogk and William Wood expressed concerns about the inappropriate dissemination and use of concept inventories. In response, Libarkin

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