Developed by: University of Minnesota Physics Education Research Group
middle schoolhigh schoolintro collegeinter-mediateupper levelgrad school other
What? Students work in small groups on short, realistic scenarios, giving them a plausible motivation for solving problems. The real-world scenarios are more complex than traditional problems and may include excess information or require students to recall important background information.
Student skills developed
- Conceptual understanding
- Problem-solving skills
- Making real-world connections
Instructor effort required
- Tables for group work
The University of Minnesota has created a free online archive of context-rich problems, where you can find problems for many topics in introductory mechanics and electromagnetism.
This is the third highest level of research validation, corresponding to:
- at least 1 of the "based on" categories
- at least 1 of the "demonstrated to improve" categories
- at least 1 of the "studied using" categories
Research Validation Summary
Based on Research Into:
- theories of how students learn
- student ideas about specific topics
Demonstrated to Improve:
- conceptual understanding
- problem-solving skills
- lab skills
- beliefs and attitudes
- retention of students
- success of underrepresented groups
- performance in subsequent classes
- cycle of research and redevelopment
- student interviews
- classroom observations
- analysis of written work
- research at multiple institutions
- research by multiple groups
- peer-reviewed publication
- P. Heller and M. Hollabaugh, Teaching Problem Solving Through Cooperative Grouping. Part 2: Designing Problems and Structuring Groups, Am. J. Phys. 60 (7), 637 (1992).
- P. Heller, R. Keith, and S. Anderson, Teaching Problem Solving Through Cooperative Grouping. Part 1: Group Versus Individual Problem Solving, Am. J. Phys. 60 (7), 627 (1992).
- M. Martinuk and J. Ives, Do prescribed prompts prime sensemaking during group problem solving?, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2011, Omaha, Nebraska, 2011.