Thesis Open Access
Sonnert, Gerhard; Sadler, Phil
This study explores how students’ grades in introductory college physics are influenced by the pedagogy used in their high school physics classes. The success of college science professors is often judged on the basis of the success of their students. This disregards the 18+ years of experiences with which students come into their physics classroom. This study aims to answer the question of what pedagogy best prepares students for introductory college physics. This quantitative study analyzes data from the Factors Influencing College Science Success (FICSS) project, focusing specifically on the data relating to college physics. The data from the FICSS Project were collected from 128 first-semester introductory college science courses taught in fall 2002 and fall 2003 at 55 four-year colleges and universities (36 public and 19 private) located in 34 states. The study used a linear regression model to determine which factors from high school physics, specifically pedagogy, influence introductory college physics performance, while controlling for student demographic and academic background. The results indicated that only two high school pedagogies have a significant influence on introductory college physics performance: the frequency of individual work and of small group work. Small group work was a negative predictor of college physics success while individual work was a positive predictor. In addition, small group work was more detrimental to female students than male students.