But there is no evidence that the students of a previous generation would have done better on the concept inventories. I suspect that in every country there is a small group who will do well no matter what the education system does. And we are part of the small group, so our experiences are often skewed. But I can remember how students really did not understand the standard physics course when I went to HS. Many just used memorization tricks because they did not have proportional reasoning. I was able to see this because I went to tiny country HS with what was considered to be good teaching in its day. And I remembered being puzzled how some students couldn't see the physics and visualize it, but just memorized it.
However there is evidence from Michael Shayer's work and unpublished evidence in the US that thinking skills have gone down 2 grade levels. But even when that is said, the average level of thinking was never that high.
There is also a study by Bao that shows while Chinese students do score higher on the FCI, this is after they have had several years of physics. But the gain for their several years can be done in a single year of IE. The other half of Bao's study showed that the Chinese students scored no higher than US students on the Lawson Thinking skills test. So despite the FCI gains, the average Chinese student did not better at thinking than the average US student.
And IE courses are NOT equivalent to watching TV. They are very demanding. It is the standard lecture course which is by contrast a lot less demanding because students can just memorize their way through them. For example Shayer & Adey's Thinking Science has the teachers pushing the students to think farther, rather than just give pat answers. It has been shown to produce large long term gains. The students end up being inspired because they learn that they can figure things out rather than being told how to do every step.
John M. Clement Houston, TX
> > I am surprised that it had to come down to a study to wake > you guys up out of your dream. I thought maybe some day you > would try to tell us how successful you are and we would have > to reply "What are you talking about? We don't even hire your > students anymore!" How long have I been saying how good our > foreign hires have been? But all they are doing is what we > used to do. I have been saying all along that my peers and I > would have eaten these concept inventories for breakfast. And > all we did was attend middle class high school classes in > calculus and physics, before the reforms. There is no doubt > left in my mind that these alternative theories of pedagogy > like I.E. are nothing more than reflections of the failure > that occurs when you try to teach secondary subjects to non > aspiring students. They belong in a book titled "When > Teaching Will Not Work..." What Hake, Epstein (and John) need > to understand is that when teaching does not work it isn't > necessarily because the teaching > is bad. When your student is neither interested nor > aspiring, I don't care what it is you claim you are doing, > but you aren't teaching. Without that ingredient you cannot > teach. Not according to the general understanding of the term > (but I am sure you have invented new definitions to cover > yourselves). Your only possibility at that point is to try to > inspire them. But the inspiration must be real and honest (or > else it is called fraud). I mean, you can't claim to be > inspiring them to take on physics when you portray physics to > be an activity about as demanding as watching TV or > twittering your friends. > > Bob Hansen >