This project, to be conducted by researchers at Florida International University, will extend the research base and theory behind Modeling Instruction (MI), a curriculum intervention for college-level physics. The project is based on the idea that different teaching approaches in physics (MI versus traditional lectures) will lead to different student knowledge, which leads to observable differences in brain structures associated with physics reasoning. The project will also examine gender differences in physics learning. This project will advance the work of the REAL (Research on Education and Learning) program in studying the neural and cognitive basis of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning.
The project will use fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to study brain activity, focusing on brain regions including the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, bilateral parahippocampal gyrus, left fusiform gyrus (all associated with fact retrieval), medial and lateral prefrontal cortices and medial and right posterior parietal cortices (all associated with reasoning). Additional neural measures will assess functional brain connectivity, as a measure of neural efficiency of reasoning. The project will also employ behavioral and educational measures of intelligence, anxiety, and physics knowledge, including the FCI (Force Concept Inventory).
Data collection for this study is complete.