Date of Award

Spring 5-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Studies and Research

Committee Chair

Thomas O'Brien

Committee Chair Department

Educational Studies and Research

Committee Member 2

James Johnson

Committee Member 3

David Davies

Committee Member 3 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 4

Terrell Tisdale


The purposes of this study were to (a) determine if taking the Physical Science Survey I course in face-to-face (F2F) and online format statistically significantly improves Newtonian conceptual comprehension as measured by the FCI; (b) determine which course format, if any, has statistically significantly higher FCI post-means; and (c) determine if students’ satisfaction with learning is statistically significantly different in the two course formats.

Data for this study was collected from students and faculty in various course formats during the Fall semester of 2012 and the Spring semester of 2013. The researcher used two research tools: the Force Concepts Inventory (FCI), and a questionnaire measuring student attitudes toward course format (SAQ). Pre and post data were collected from students using the FCI, and post data were collected using the SAQ.

Results of the study suggest that both course formats resulted in an increase in conceptual understanding of Newtonian force concepts. Students enrolled in the F2F format experienced a more substantial increase in comprehension of force concepts. However, neither course format increased students’ conceptual understanding of force concepts to an extent that approached what experts call even an entry-level understanding. The current study also suggests that students are just as satisfied with the online course format as they are with the F2F format.