Assessing Introductory Physics Students’ Learning Strategies

Proceedings of ‏The 3rd International Conference on Academic Research in Science, Technology and Engineering

Year: 2020


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Assessing Introductory Physics Students’ Learning Strategies

T. M. Seixas and M. A. Salgueiro da Silva



This study examines physics students’ learning strategies in an introductory physics course, belonging to two sciences programs at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto in Portugal, using Pintrich (2000) model of self-regulated learning (SRL). Physics II is a general physics course, where fundamental physical principles of electricity, magnetism, optics, and thermodynamics are covered. The research instrument used in this ongoing study consisted of two open-ended questions on learning strategies students used for studying for Physics II course and the percentage of the strategy’s first rank choice. The qualitative survey was conducted face-to-face in campus setting and participant students were randomly selected. Qualitative data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. The three most listed students’ learning strategies, were: “to study course materials”, “to solve problems” and “to do online formative tests”. These strategies were ranked as first choice for most students. Some of the learning strategies referred by physics students belong to metacognitive knowledge. To a broad understanding of these qualitative results, a quantitative analysis must be performed in the future and extended not only to introductory physics students but also to advanced students enrolled in major and master in physics, mathematics and engineering. Moreover, to deeply understand the different areas for SRL phases, not only the metacognition area must be examined, but also motivation/affect, behaviour and context.

Keywords: physics learning, learning strategies, metacognitive knowledge, Vygotsky, self-regulated learning (SRL).