Actively Engaging Students in Learning Physics Using the KWL Method

Date of Graduation

Summer 2001


Master of Science in Materials Science


Physics, Astronomy, and Materials Science

Committee Chair

Kandiah Manivannan


The KWL method is a teaching method that actively engages students in the learning process. The method involves finding out what the students Know, what they Want to know, and what they have Learned. In this work, the KWL method was used to teach laboratory sections of the introductory algebra-based physics courses. The gain in the conceptual understanding of the students in sections that used KWL method was compared with the gain of the students in control sections that did not use this method. A nationally validated mechanics concept test (n=256), a basic skills test (n=127), and a vector diagnostic test (n=145) were administered to students in order to evaluate their understanding. Measurable improvements were found on the vector diagnostic instrument in the classes where the KWL method was used. The basic skills and the mechanics tests also showed improvement in the KWL groups. The findings show that the KWL method was a simple technique that improved the effectiveness of physics teaching.

Subject Categories

Materials Science and Engineering


© Cheryl Schaefer