Digital Video, Learning Styles, and Student Understanding of Kinematics Graphs

  • Teresa Larkin-Hein
  • Dean A Zollman


This study focused on student ability to analyze and interpret motion graphs following laboratory instruction using interactive digital video as well as traditional instructional techniques. Particular attention was given to students? ability to construct and interpret motion graphs. Two laboratory exercises involving motion concepts (i.e. freefall and projectile motion) were developed for this study. Students were divided into two instructional groups. The students in the treatment group used digital video techniques and students in the control group used traditional techniques to perform the laboratory exercises. Student understanding of motion concepts were assessed, in part, using the Test of Understanding Graphs-Kinematics (Beichner, 1994). Other assessment measures included student responses to various writing activities. Possible relationships between individual learning style preferences and student understanding of motion concepts were also addressed. Learning style preferences were assessed using the Productivity Environmental Preference Survey (Price, G., Dunn, R., & Dunn, K., 1991) prior to the instructional treatments. Although analysis of covariance statistical procedures revealed no significant difference between instructional treatment and student ability to interpret motion graphs as measured by the Test of Understanding Graphs- Kinematics, the results of this study show that the use of interactive digital video tools can serve to increase student motivation as well as encourage longer time on task. Results of the statistical procedures also showed no significant relationship between students? learning style preferences and their ability to interpret motion graphs. After controlling for potential differences in student ability levels using SAT scores and course grades, a significant difference in mean scores on the Test of Understanding Graphs-Kinematics was observed between males and females. The resulting mean score on the Test of Understanding Graphs-Kinematics was 10.19 for females and 12.77 for males [F(1,42) = 4.15, p = 0.048]. Interestingly, males and females as separate populations had similar mean SAT scores and course grades. Additional studies regarding gender difference are warranted.