There is an undergraduate student in our physics teaching program who wants to do his undergraduate thesis around using video analysis for physics labs. I am not supervising this research, but the student has come to me for some guidance.
This is how the student describes his work in an email to me:
The research I am doing involves using Logger Pro software to analyze motion videos for physics labs. The main goals of this research can be divided into three areas.
- Create 2-3 labs involving logger pro that can be used at the high school level, but with room for adjustments to be adapted for other levels.
- Design a questionnaire to be given to two classes; one that is using the logger pro software in their labs versus one that is undergoing the “traditional” physics instruction without logger pro.
- Create a comprehensive instructional guide for others to use logger pro in their own classrooms (for students and teachers).
For the most part, I feel like I can handle making the labs and the instructional guide, but I could use some guidance for the questionnaire. I also need some help in how I should put this together to make it look more like a legitimate research project than a mess of ideas put together.
Based on my experience working with graduate students on their Masters theses, I am not surprised to see new education researchers wanting to jump to developing, implementing, and testing curriculum. I am also not surprised that faculty–at least those who are not trained in education research–would encourage students to go this route. To many, it seems like the “science-y” thing to do–develop a product, run an experiment, take quantitative data, and compare outcomes.
My responsibility, as I see it, is to help new researchers do research that (1) contributes to the knowledge base on teaching and learning AND (2) helps them develop important skill for teaching. The balance between these two goals is dependent on the project and the student. What I don’t want them doing is re-inventing wheels and run wheel races. We don’t need more of that.
So the two things I would love to hear about from everyone is the following:
(1) What curriculum do you use or have you developed that for video analysis? And can you share it with me? What pedagogical philosophies or strategies encapsulate your use of video analysis? How does this fit within the bigger picture of your course?
(2) From the practitioner side, what questions, concerns, and issues do you have about video analysis? What questions could an education researcher pursue that would contribute to your practice or to your understanding of the teaching and learning you do with video analysis?