Ability group configuration for the high school physics classroom
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This research project looks to investigate the effectiveness of different ability grouping arrangements for the high school physics classroom. Students were first organized based on their academic aptitude in physics into three general groups of high, medium, and low achieving students. They were then divided into both groups of four and dyads that were constructed in one of four arrangements, namely: random, homogeneous, heterogeneous, or student choice. Data was collected based on their academic performance as well as survey responses regarding the group and dyad performance. Students worked in a rotation of these groups and dyads for a unit to measure student preference and introduce collaborative work formally to the classes. At this point it was evident that students preferred the student choice arrangement based on survey responses, yet the student choice survey responses also resulted in the lowest level of reliability when compared to all other grouping methods. For the next unit students were kept in either the random, homogeneous, or heterogeneous grouping arrangement for the entirety of the unit. At the conclusion of the second unit student achievement as well as survey responses were analyzed. As a result of this research there appears to be a slight student preference as well as academic benefit to homogeneous group and dyad arrangements for each of the three ability groups of students in the high school physics classroom when compared to random and heterogeneous grouping methods of academic group arrangement.