Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




John R. Thompson

Second Committee Member

Michael C. Wittmann

Third Committee Member

Molly Schauffler


Data from three high schools that teach physics in ninth grade and three that teach physics in twelfth grade were used to make comparisons between these classes. Research tools include written pre- and post-tests of kinematics and mechanics concepts, a written physics attitudes and expectations survey, and individual student interviews. Portions of these tools were excerpted from wellknown and thoroughly tested instruments. The normalized gains on the conceptual survey were compared, and analyzed to determine which kinematics and mechanics concepts ninth- and twelfth-graders appear to learn differently. Students' perceptions of physics from the ninth- and twelfth-grade viewpoints are also compared. Results suggest that while the populations are similar affectively, they have some significant differences in conceptual understanding, and this difference is amplified by different instructional approaches.