An excerpt from a draft of Hestenes D., Megowan-Romanowicz, C, Osborn Popp, S., Jackson, J., & Culbertson, R. (2011). A graduate program for high school physics and physical science teachers. Am. J. Phys. 79 (9), p.971-979.


Student achievement of Master of Natural Science degree program teachers.

            Research has shown that students taught with interactive engagement instructional methods have higher pretest-posttest gains on the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) than students taught with traditional instruction. For example, Hake found an average normalized gain of 0.25 for students receiving traditional instruction and an average gain of 0.48 for students receiving instruction using interactive engagement methods.

            Thirty-two MNS degree program teachers provided student FCI pretest and posttest data during their first academic year after taking the Modeling Workshop in mechanics. Of the 32 teachers, 40% had degrees in physics or physics education, and half had taught physics for two years or fewer. Sample sizes for these teachers ranged from eight to 124, with most between 20 and 40 students. The pretest and posttest mean FCI scores for 1117 students were 7.58 ( 25%; SD = 1.15) and 15.68 ( 52%; SD = 3.46) points, respectively. Normalized gains (calculated at the class level, with matched pretest and posttest student data) ranged from 0.15 to 0.76, with over 80% of pretest-posttest gains exceeding 0.25, the average gain found for courses taught traditionally, and over 30% of pretest-posttest gains exceeding 0.48, the average gain found for courses utilizing interactive engagement methods. The average normalized gain was 0.36 (weighted by the number of students per class).

            Figure 5 [next page] provides pretest and posttest scores for students of these 32 MNS degree program teachers, ordered by pretest percentage mean. The six teachers with the lowest student mean posttest scores are crossover teachers; and those who submitted student data in subsequent years showed improvement. Results are consistent with findings from a previous study on student achievement and gains observed in students of the greater population of teachers attending MNS courses but not pursuing the degree.


Relevant references:

Hake, R (1998). Interactive-engagement vs. traditional methods: A six thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses. Am. J. Phys. 66, p.64-74.

Hestenes, D. and Jackson, J. (2006). NSF report: Findings of the ASU Summer Graduate Program for Physics Teachers (2002-2006). National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA, See also the reports of MNS program independent evaluators Frances Lawrenz, Eugene Judson, and Rose Shaw at

Halloun, I., Hake, R., Mosca, E., and Hestenes, D.  Force Concept Inventory (revised 1995). in 25 languages.

Hestenes, D., Wells, M., and Swackhamer, G. (1992). Force Concept Inventory, The Physics Teacher 30, p.141-158.





FIG. 5.  Pretest and posttest student FCI percentages by Master of Natural Science degree program teachers.




[Comments: The highest normalized gain on the graph is 0.76: this is outstanding! Normalized gain = actual gain/possible gain. Student post-test mean FCI scores typically continue to increase (improve) for three or four years after a 3-week Modeling Workshop. Modeling Instruction meets the standard for moderate evidence established by the What Works Clearinghouse of the U.S. Department of Education. The effect size is large: 0.9 for more than 1600 students in regular first-year physics courses in public high schools. In comparison to traditional instruction, under expert Modeling Instruction high school students average more than two standard deviations higher on the FCI. See documents at , or contact December 2014]