Demonstrations: More Than Just Entertainment?

Presentation Date: 

Wednesday, January 23, 2002


124th AAPT National Meeting (Philadelphia, PA)

Presentation Slides: 

Does the manner of presentation determine the effectiveness of demonstrations as teaching tools? To answer this question, we improved a 1998 study by presenting seven demonstrations to sections of an introductory physics course in different ways: (1) students were shown the demonstration and the outcome explained (traditional); (2) students predicted the outcome before the demonstration; (3) students completed a worksheet in which they predicted the outcome, compared their prediction to what was observed, and resolved any inconsistency through discussion; (4) no demonstration was shown. At the end of the course, students completed a free-response test asking them to predict and explain the outcome of physical situations identical to the demonstrations. The results indicate that students asked to predict the outcome (2), and especially those who explicitly compare their prediction to the actual outcome (3), remember and understand the outcome at a much higher rate than those who saw the demonstration in traditional style (1).