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A Causal Model of Students Achievement in an Introductory Mechanics Course

The purpose of this study is to find out the factors affecting students' achievement in introductory mechanics by employing the Factorial Modeling (FaM) procedure by using Statistical Packages for Social Sciences (SPSS) program. The subjects were 30 preservice physics teachers at Middle East Technical University (METU). Data were collected from Mechanics Diagnostic test, Science Logic test, and the information in the students' files at the METU registration office. This study had seven variates; (i) students' preconceptions, (ii) students' cognitive levels, (iii) students' science score in University Entrance Examination (UEE), (iv) students' Lycee Certificate scores, (v) students' Cumulative General Point Average (CGPA) in the University, (vi) students' mathematics achievement, and (vii) students' mechanics achievement. Bivariate correlations were computed for all pairs of variates, and a causal model of students' achievement in an introductory mechanics course was devised. The FaM procedure resulted in three variables named (i) Newtonian physics covering first three variates, (ii) Science Experience covering the fourth and fifth variates, and (iii) Mathematics aptitude covering the sixth variate. These three variables explained 62 percent of variances in the students' mechanics achievement scores (the criterion variate).