Confusion: Students' Perception vs. Reality

Presentation Date: 

Tuesday, January 18, 2000


American Association of Physics Teachers Winter 2000 Meeting (Kissimmee, FL)

Presentation Slides: 

Should an instructor be discouraged when students say ""I'm confused""? This is a crucial issue for educational reform, because students often report feeling more confused when they are asked to think more for themselves. We report on an analysis of the relationship between perceived confusion and understanding in introductory physics. We asked 200 students during one semester to indicate what, if anything, they found difficult or confusing in their pre-class reading assignment and correlated their responses to answers they provided on questions on corresponding topics. Preliminary results suggest that many students who express confusion about a topic still answer a question on that topic correctly, while those who claim that ""Nothing was confusing"" often answer incorrectly. This implies that confusion is not a sign of poor performance or poor instruction, but rather an integral part of the learning process that must be addressed rather than avoided.