Modeling Instruction Program

Dwain Desbien

A picture is worth a thousand words! A person can watch these three short movies again and again, and learn something new each time! Download them, or watch in streaming format.

(1) This professionally edited QuickTime movie (63MB, 13 minutes) shows a class period, 3 weeks into the semester in Dwain Desbien's calculus level university physics course at Chandler-Gilbert Community College (CGCC) in fall 1999. 1/3 of the students had never had physics before! The articulate young man in yellow is a music major. The movie is good to show at teacher workshops!
(2) Bouncing Ball, unedited classroom recording (209MB, 41 mins).
(3) Newton's Third Law, unedited classroom recording (222MB, 41 mins).

Impressive student learning:

By using a modeling methodology, Dwain Desbien succeeded in raising the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) scores of his CGCC students from a pretest average of 38% to a posttest average of 89%! That is phenomenal! He had 19 students in fall 1999: 8 had taken high school physics, 4 had taken algebra-based college physics, and 7 had no prior physics. 7 were girls and 5 were Hispanics. On the Mechanics Baseline Test, their average posttest score was 79% - also very high.

Furthermore, there was hardly any standard deviation on the FCI pretest. In other words, students who had previously had physics did NO better on the pretest than the 7 students who had NO PREVIOUS PHYSICS COURSE. This suggests that their previous physics course was of little value.

Since 1999, Dwain has repeated these excellent results at CGCC and in a similar course at ASU. For example, in fall semester 2000 he, his fellow graduate student Eric Brewe, and Michael Politano, a visiting assistant professor at ASU, taught a calculus based physics section of 64 students using Modeling Instruction. The normalized (Hake) gain on the FCI for this section was 0.63, comparable to gains in the smaller sections using Modeling Instruction, and was a factor of two higher than gains achieved by comparison university physics sections at ASU taught using traditional instruction. The average posttest score of students in traditionally taught sections each year is about 63%, whereas the class average in Dwain's and Michael's class is in the mid-80's %. Evaluation with other instruments (CSEM, MBT) gave equally impressive results.

Dwain Desbien taught community college physics in Kansas for 4 years before coming to ASU to earn a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in physics education. His thesis advisor was David Hestenes, Professor of Physics. He earned his PhD in 2002 and took a job teaching physics at Estrella Mountain Community College, just west of Phoenix.

You are encouraged to duplicate these movies and give them freely to other teachers who use Modeling Instruction.

© Mangala Joshua. 5/11/2005. Permission to copy or disseminate all or part of the three QuickTime movies about Dwain Desbien for educational use by high school and post-secondary teachers is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for commercial advantage, and the copyright and its date appear. To disseminate otherwise, to republish, or to place at any website requires written permission. Contact: