Pilot work demonstrates the benefits of sensorimotor experience for students’ understanding of the angular momentum concept. Students completed a test measuring their understanding of physical systems both before and after a training exercise. During training, students observed a demonstration of angular momentum and torque (observation group) or became part of the physical system and felt the effects of a changing angular momentum themselves (sensorimotor group). The sensorimotor group improved their understanding of the relations between factors which influence angular momentum and torque. The observation group did not. Importantly, visual input and attentional demands were equated across students, suggesting that sensorimotor experience drove learning differences.
The findings from this work will advance physics education and also have the potential to impact learning in other STEM domains.