Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


Physics--Study and teaching (Secondary); Advanced placement programs (Education);


Every year, hundreds of thousands of high school students take the AP Physics 1 Exam. Passing scores can mean college credit, recognition, and scholarships. While typical physics courses teach the content and solution procedures in discrete units such as dynamics, energy, and momentum, the AP Physics 1 Exam requires students to solve problems without problem-type headings or unit captions. Students must also be able to support ideas and answers using overarching theories, laws, and principles. This research looks at a curricular and pedagogical strategy designed to teach AP Physics 1 students how those discrete units fit together into a complete story of physics. Instruction also included lessons regarding when to use laws and principles from a specific unit and why those ideas apply to certain contexts. Part of the instructional strategy included a formative assessment series which both measured student growth and gave students practice using the cognitive tools associated with the experimental curriculum and pedagogy. Students showed an average of 20% growth in problem solving and answer success over the course of the formative assessment series. The class average of AP Physics 1 Exam scores also increased by about 20% when compared to a previous academic year, which did not include the experimental curriculum and pedagogy. The experimental curriculum and pedagogy helped to improve students’ AP Physics 1 Exam scores.

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education


Science Education Program

First Advisor

Jeffrey Morgan

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (110 pages)



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