Replicating and Understanding Successful Innovations:
Implementing Tutorials in Introductory Physics
N. D. Finkelstein and S. J. Pollock
University of Colorado at Boulder
We report a detailed study of the implementation of Tutorials in Introductory Physics at a large-
scale research institution. Based on two successive semesters of evaluation, we observe students'
improved conceptual mastery (FMCE median normalized gain = 0.77, N=336), albeit with some
student discontent. We replicate the results of original studies of Tutorial e¤ectiveness and docu-
ment how and why these results occur. Additionally, using the Colorado Learning Attitudes about
Science Survey we measure the support of students' expert-like beliefs about learning physics in
our environment. We examine this implementation and these data from a contextual constructivist
viewpoint, by studying varying contextual levels of this implementation, from students' engagement
in individual tasks, to the situations in which these tasks are embedded, to the broader classroom,
departmental and educational structures. We document both obvious and subtle features that help
insure the successful implementation of these reforms.