CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH DESIGN

Setting

The subjects of this study were students at Brentwood School in Los Angeles, California who were enrolled in the 1997-1998 “General Physics” class. One-third of these students were high school seniors and the rest were high school juniors. The school was a college preparatory institution and all of the students were expected to be accepted into universities. The subjects were the researcher's students and, therefore, a convenient choice for this study. All students were made aware that they were part of a research study. This was the first year at Brentwood School that physics students were required to do a science fair project. It was anticipated that there would be a great deal of reluctance amongst the subjects to do a required science fair project which may have an impact on this study: every student at the school did a science fair project in grade eight so most students felt that they should not have had to do one again. There were 16 students in each of two sections of “General Physics.” The classroom had eleven computers with probeware and all of the required software to publish on the World Wide Web. They were connected to the school's LAN (local area network) and had Internet access as well as a classroom display monitor. A computer classroom (20 computers) was available so that the whole class could work together on a regular basis. There were also numerous “student computer labs” on campus where students could work on an individual basis. All campus computers had required software, were connected to the LAN and had Internet access. In addition, each student had an individual email account and a directory to save work.

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