Kapon Ganiel Eylon - Physics Education 2009

Scientific argumentation in public physics lectures: bringing contemporary physics into high-school teaching
Phys. Educ. 44 33-38 doi: 10.1088/0031-9120/44/1/004

S Kapon, U Ganiel and B Eylon

This article presents an approach to integrating public e-lectures on contemporary physics into a traditional high-school syllabus. This approach was used in a long-distance professional development course for in-service physics teachers. Each lecture was related to a specific obligatory syllabus chapter, and was accompanied by learner-centred activities. We provide a detailed description of an activity that explicates the scientific arguments that were presented in the lectures. Teachers appreciated the approach and reported that the lectures and activities updated and broadened their knowledge of physics and contributed to their understanding of the nature of science (NOS).


Black Wittmann - arxiv.org 2008

Visualizing changes in student responses using consistency plots
arxiv.org (Submitted on 16 Dec 2008)

Katrina E. Black, Michael C. Wittmann

Traditional methods of reporting changes in student responses have focused on class-wide averages. Such models hide information about the switches in responses by individual students over the course of a semester. We extend unpublished work by Steven Kanim on "escalator diagrams" which show changes in student responses from correct to incorrect (and vice versa) while representing pre- and post-instruction results on questions. Our extension consists of "consistency plots" in which we represent three forms of data: method of solution and correctness of solution both before and after instruction. Our data are from an intermediate mechanics class, and come from (nearly) identical midterm and final examination questions.

(This paper has been submitted to PRST-PER, and this link will be replaced if and when the paper is accepted and published. The new page will contain a link to the original arxiv.org submission at that time.)


Joung - IJSE 2008

Children's Typically-Perceived-Situations of Floating and Sinking
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 31, Issue 1 January 2009 , pages 101 - 127

Yong Jae Joung
Monash University, Australia
DOI: 10.1080/09500690701744603

The purpose of this study is to explore children's typically-perceived-situations (TPS) of 'floating' and 'sinking'. TPS refers to the situation rising spontaneously in an individual's mind when they first think of a phenomenon or concept. Data were collected from 148 Year 5 Korean children. As a result of analysing the data according to three categories - 'spatial background', 'main object', and 'position of main object' - the children mainly thought of a river or a sea with a human or a boat on the water surface or half-submerged as a floating situation; and a river or sea with a boat or a human on the bottom or mid-way between the water surface and the bottom as a sinking situation respectively. Considering the whole context of children's TPS, the contexts of 'a boat is on the water surface of the sea or river' and 'a boat is half-submerged in the sea or river' were the most frequent ones, as a floating and as a sinking situation respectively. In addition, it appeared that these children's TPS affect their judgment of floating and sinking, in that they showed stronger tendency to regard the situation where an object is just beneath the water as a floating situation, while the position of a main object in their TPS of a sinking situation was nearer to the bottom of the water. Based on these results, several suggestions for science education are given.

Fields - IJSE 2009

What do Students Gain from a Week at Science Camp? Youth perceptions and the design of an immersive, research-oriented astronomy camp
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 31, Issue 2 January 2009 , pages 151 - 171
DOI: 10.1080/09500690701648291

Deborah Anne Fields

This study explored American high school students' perceptions of the benefits of a summer astronomy camp, emphasizing a full cycle of the research process and how the organization of the camp contributed to those perceptions. Semi-structured interviews with students and staff were used to elicit the specific benefits that campers perceived from their experiences and examine them in relation to the stated goals and strategies of camp staff. Among the perceived benefits that students described were peer relationships, personal autonomy, positive relationships with staff, and deepened science knowledge. These perceived benefits appear to influence the kinds of identities students constructed for themselves in relation to science. Gee's concept of 'affinity space' is used to consider how features of the camp's design, especially those that promoted student autonomy, contributed to students' positive perceptions, and to draw implications for the design of informal science learning experiences that can link youth with larger communities of scientists.

Park Light - IJSE 2009

Identifying Atomic Structure as a Threshold Concept: Student mental models and troublesomeness
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 31, Issue 2 January 2009 , pages 233 - 258
DOI: 10.1080/09500690701675880

Eun Jung Park; Gregory Light

Atomic theory or the nature of matter is a principal concept in science and science education. This has, however, been complicated by the difficulty students have in learning the concept and the subsequent construction of many alternative models. To understand better the conceptual barriers to learning atomic structure, this study explores the troublesome nature of this fundamental scientific concept. In order to illustrate the distinction of student understanding by threshold barriers, this study chose three particularly high-achieving students from an original interview sample of 20 students who were selected from an introductory college chemistry course. The pre-course and post-course interview responses were examined and compared in detail. This study considers the concepts of 'probability' and 'energy quantization' to both describe the structure of the threshold of understanding students' need to negotiate in their construction of the target model of atomic structure. In this respect, this study suggests atomic structure as a possible threshold concept for further study in science. Identifying the nature and structure of the threshold of understanding confronting students, and analyzing the troublesomeness of atomic structure, provides valuable information for understanding student learning difficulties, and insight into how they may be addressed.


Studies in Educational Evaluation special issue

This special issue looks really interesting for those who are focusing on methodology, credibility of measurements, and so on. The applications to PER should be relatively obvious, but they are part of our unquestioned assumptions about the data that we take. Read up for more...

The Process of Evaluation: Focus on Stakeholders
Edited by Tanner LeBaron Wallace and Marvin C. Alkin

Studies in Educational Evaluation
Volume 34, Issue 4, Pages 191-230 (December 2008)

1. Editorial Board
Page CO2

2. Editor's Note
Page 191

3. Process of evaluation: Focus on stakeholders
Pages 192-193
Tanner LeBaron Wallace, Marvin C. Alkin

4. What we learned from three evaluations that involved stakeholders
Pages 194-200
Jean A. King, John C. Ehlert

5. Integrating participatory elements into an effectiveness evaluation
Pages 201-207
Tanner LeBaron Wallace

6. When stakeholders rebel: Lessons from a safe schools program
Pages 208-211
Billie Gastic, Decoteau J. Irby, Maureen Zdanis

7. Engaging stakeholders in the planning of a collaborative multi-agency evaluation: The HousingPlus Collaborative Communities Project
Pages 212-217
John Sylvestre, J. Bradley Cousins, Purnima Sundar, Tim Aubry, Val Hinsperger

8. Encouraging stakeholder engagement: A case study of evaluator behavior
Pages 218-223
Cheryl-Anne Poth, Lyn Shulha

9. What have we learned about stakeholder involvement in program evaluation?
Pages 224-230
Sandy Taut


New journal to consider: Water

I say this partially in jest, but also in honesty: If you're doing any work that deals with fluid mechanics (student understanding of... teacher understanding of... evaluation of curricula about... etc.) then consider sending a paper to Water, a new journal seeking submissions. No, they don't say they would publish papers on education research. Why should that stop you? Send in a draft, try it out, see what happens.


Etkina Karelina Ruibal-Villasenor - PRST-PER 2008

How long does it take? A study of student acquisition of scientific abilities
Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 4, 020108 (2008)

Eugenia Etkina, Anna Karelina, and Maria Ruibal-Villasenor

Most of the time, instructors of introductory physics limit their goals to students’ acquisition of basic concepts and end-of-the-chapter problem solving efficiency. They overlook the development of students’ science process abilities required for constructing scientific knowledge and approaching complex problems as scientists do. This goal is attainable and very valuable at the same time. This paper describes how learners improved their scientific abilities during the course of one semester and reports on the activities and facilitations that helped students in the process. We investigated how long it takes for novices to develop complex scientific abilities and whether the content and the context of the tasks affect the abilities that students demonstrate. We found that students need to conduct several cycles of scaffolded investigations to gain competence in the application of scientific abilities. Depending on the particular ability, a period of five to eight weeks of work is necessary to achieve it.

Merhar Planinsic Cepic - EJP 2009

Sketching graphs—an efficient way of probing students' conceptions

Eur. J. Phys. 30 163-175 doi: 10.1088/0143-0807/30/1/017

Vida Kariz Merhar, Gorazd Planinsic and Mojca Cepic

This paper describes a teaching method that allows for the fast and early detection of students' conceptions, misconceptions and their development. The empirical study of two examples where the method was applied is reported. The prerequisites for the efficient use of the method are discussed and results of the pilot study of its effectiveness are briefly presented.


Thompson McGill - J Ed Computing Research 2008

Multimedia and Cognition: Examining the Effect of Applying Cognitive Principles to the Design of Instructional Materials
Journal of Educational Computing Research Volume 39, Number 2 / 2008, p 143 - 159

Nik Thompson and Tanya Jane McGill

The human cognitive system possesses a finite processing capacity, which is split into channels for various modalities, and learning can be inhibited if any of the cognitive channels is overloaded. However, although the amount of e-learning materials is increasing steadily, the design of instructional material has been largely based on intuition rather than cognitive principles. This research investigated if it is possible to improve the effectiveness of an established e-learning system by the application of cognitive design principles. And if so, does the increased development time and resources yield a substantial effect on learning. Quantitative data collecting during the experiment supported the cognitive principles based design and demonstrated that significantly better quiz scores were obtained in transfer and retention tests when compared against a more traditional design. The results of the study also indicate that the cognitive principles based design was both practical and feasible to apply in terms of necessary resources.

Jang - J Ed Psych

Supporting Students' Motivation, Engagement, and Learning During an Uninteresting Activity
Journal of Educational Psychology Volume 100, Issue 4, November 2008, Pages 798-811

Hyungshim Jang

The present study examined the capacity of 2 different theoretical models of motivation to explain why an externally provided rationale often supports students' motivation, engagement, and learning during relatively uninteresting learning activities. One hundred thirty-six undergraduates (108 women, 28 men) worked on an uninteresting 20-min lesson after either receiving or not receiving a rationale. Participants who received the rationale showed greater identified regulation, interest-enhancing strategies, behavioral engagement, and conceptual learning. Structural equation modeling was used to test 3 alternative explanatory models to understand why the rationale produced these benefits—an identified regulation model based on self-determination theory, an interest regulation model based on interest-enhancing strategies research, and an additive model that integrated both models. The data fit all 3 models; however, only the model that included rationale-enhanced identified regulation uniquely fostered students' engagement and hence their learning. Findings highlight the role that externally provided rationales can play in helping students generate the autonomous motivation they need to engage constructively in and learn from uninteresting, but personally important, lessons.


Cognitive Development Special Issue: Scientific Reasoning

Cognitive Development
Volume 23, Issue 4, Pages 431-538 (October-December 2008)

SPECIAL ISSUE: Scientific reasoning -- Where are we now?

Scientific reasoning—Where are we now?
Pages 431-434
Beate Sodian, Merry Bullock

Beyond control of variables: What needs to develop to achieve skilled scientific thinking?
Pages 435-451
Deanna Kuhn, Kalypso Iordanou, Maria Pease, Clarice Wirkala

A dual-process account of the development of scientific reasoning: The nature and development of metacognitive intercession skills
Pages 452-471
Eric Amsel, Paul A. Klaczynski, Adam Johnston, Shane Bench, Jason Close, Eric Sadler, Rick Walker

Information becomes evidence when an explanation can incorporate it into a causal framework
Pages 472-487
Barbara Koslowski, Joseph Marasia, Melanie Chelenza, Randi Dublin

Developing elementary science skills: Instructional effectiveness and path independence
Pages 488-511
Mari Strand-Cary, David Klahr

Supporting development of the epistemology of inquiry
Pages 512-529
Richard Lehrer, Leona Schauble, Deborah Lucas

(note that I have only labeled first authors in the labels here. Sorry if you end up missing this article on searches.)

Martin-Blas Serrano-Fernandeza - Computers & Education 2008

The role of new technologies in the learning process: Moodle as a teaching tool in Physics

Teresa Martín-Blas and Ana Serrano-Fernándeza

In this work we present an overview of the undergraduate online Physics course that we have implemented in the Moodle platform. This course has been developed as an enhancement of the face-to-face courses. The aim of this course is to create an online learning community which helps both teachers and students to have a virtual space where we can share knowledge through different kinds of supervised activities, chats and forums. As we will show in this paper, the students’ response to this initiative has been very good: the online Physics course helps them to reinforce their abilities and knowledge.

Kariotoglou Spyrtou Tselfes - IJSME 2008

How Student Teachers Understand Distance Force Interactions In Different Contexts

International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education

Petros Kariotoglou, Anna Spyrtou and Vassilis Tselfes

In this paper, we describe empirical research on the recording of primary school and preschool student teacher conceptions of the concept of distant force interactions in different contexts related to the school curriculum for this subject. For this objective to be achieved, we undertook ten semi-structured interviews with student teachers. Based on the findings from these interviews, we developed a written ten-item questionnaire that was distributed to 264 first-year student teachers at three Greek universities. The main findings of our research are that a significant number of students: (i) experience difficulty in recognizing the interactions in different contexts, and even in different cases within the same context; (ii) place the arrow representing the force on the body that exerts it and not on that which accepts it; and (iii) hold the alternative view that the larger the body interacting, the greater the force it exerts. Based on the above results, as well as in the ways in which they seem to be related, we developed hypotheses, potentially able to lead to the construction of a teaching–learning sequence, which focuses on the comprehension of force as the measure of a unified concept of interaction between two entities.

Hake collects other education blogs... (60 blog version)

Hake's collection of blogs

Dick Hake has posted a list of 60 blogs in education... Check them out, because there's good stuff out there!



Lin Tsai - IJSE 2008

Exploring the Structural Relationships between High School Students' Scientific Epistemological Views and their Utilization of Information Commitments toward Online Science Information
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 30, Issue 15 December 2008 , pages 2001 - 2022

Chia-Ching Lin; Chin-Chung Tsai

The main purpose of this study was to examine the structural relationships between scientific epistemological views (SEVs) and information commitments (ICs) of high school students in Taiwan. Data were collected from 486 Taiwanese high school students via two self-reporting instruments: one was the SEV questionnaire, including five scales for representing students' views toward scientific knowledge; and the other was the ICs survey, involving six scales for exploring their evaluative standards and searching strategies of online science information. Structural equation modelling analysis was used to examine the relationships between the aspects of SEVs and ICs. The results of the measurement model confirmed that both the SEVs and ICs instruments had highly satisfactory validity and reliability. The structural equation modelling analysis further indicated that students' SEVs guided their evaluative standards and searching strategy when dealing with Web-based science information. For example, students who viewed scientific knowledge as more changeable and tentative significantly tended to adopt a more sophisticated evaluative standard, such as carefully inspecting the content of web sites for judging the usefulness. The findings in general suggested that students with more constructivist-oriented SEVs might develop more advanced standards and searching strategy toward online scientific information to derive great benefit from Web-based environments. Consequently, the role of SEVs should be highlighted as increasingly metacognitive engagement with online science information.

Nussbaum Sinatra Poliquin - IJSE 2008

Role of Epistemic Beliefs and Scientific Argumentation in Science Learning
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 30, Issue 15 December 2008 , pages 1977 - 1999

E. Michael Nussbaum; Gale M. Sinatra; Anne Poliquin

We hypothesized that instruction in the criteria of scientific arguments, in combination with constructivist epistemic beliefs, would produce greater learning about physics concepts. The study was a randomized experiment, where college undergraduates (n = 88) discussed, in pairs over the Web, several physics problems related to gravity and air resistance. Prior to their discussions, one-half of the dyads received information on the nature of scientific arguments. All students were classified epistemologically as relativists, multiplists, or evaluativists. We found that students in the treatment group incorporated more scientific criteria into their discussion notes and accordingly developed better arguments on several dimensions. In addition, significantly more participants in the treatment group adopted the correct answer to one of the problems. Outcomes also differed in relation to students' epistemic beliefs. Specifically, multiplists were less critical of inconsistencies and misconceptions, and interacted with their partners less than other belief groups, whereas evaluativists interacted more critically, bringing up different ideas from their partners. Evaluativists also solved one of the physics problems more accurately and tended to demonstrate a reduction in misconceptions. We discuss the results in light of instruction in scientific argumentation, conceptual development and change, and epistemic beliefs.

Taber - IJSE 2008

Exploring Conceptual Integration in Student Thinking: Evidence from a case study
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 30, Issue 14 November 2008 , pages 1915 - 1943

Keith S. Taber

Two reasons are suggested for studying the degree of conceptual integration in student thinking. The linking of new material to existing knowledge is an important aspect of meaningful learning. It is also argued that conceptual coherence is a characteristic of scientific knowledge and a criterion used in evaluating new theories. Appreciating this 'scientific value' should be one objective when students learn about the nature of science. These considerations imply that students should not only learn individual scientific models and principles, but should be taught to see how they are linked together. The present paper describes the use of an interview protocol designed to explore conceptual integration across two college-level subjects (chemistry and physics). The novelty here is that a single interview is used to elicit explanations of a wide range of phenomena. The potential of this approach is demonstrated through an account of one student's scientific thinking, showing both how she applied fundamental ideas widely, and also where conceptual integration was lacking. The value and limitations of using this type of interview as one means for researching conceptual integration in students' thinking are discussed.


Malone - PRST-PER 2008

Correlations among knowledge structures, force concept inventory, and problem-solving behaviors
Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 4, 020107 (2008)

Kathy L. Malone

The modeling instruction pedagogy for the teaching of physics has been proven to be quite effective at increasing the conceptual understanding and problem-solving abilities of students to a much greater extent than that of nonmodeling students. Little research has been conducted concerning the cognitive and metacognitive skills that modeling students develop that allow for these increases. Two studies were designed to answer the following question: In what ways do the knowledge structures, metacognitive skills, and problem-solving abilities differ between modeling and nonmodeling students? In study 1, the knowledge structures developed by two groups of high school physics students taught using differing pedagogies (modeling instruction in physics and traditional methods) were determined using a card-sort task. The student’s knowledge structures were then correlated with the scores they obtained on two measures: the force concept inventory (FCI) and a problem-solving task (PS task) developed for this study. The modeling students had a more expertlike knowledge structure, while the nonmodeling students produced structures that were novicelike. In addition, the expert score correlated highly with performance on both the FCI and PS task scores demonstrating that a higher expert score predicted a higher value on each of these measures while a higher surface feature score predicted a lower score on both of these measures. In study 2, a verbal protocol design allowed for a detailed study of the problem-solving and metacognitive skills utilized by the two groups. It was determined that the skills utilized by the modeling instruction students were more expertlike. In addition, the modeling students produced significantly fewer physics errors while catching and repairing a greater percentage of their errors.


Hanif Sneddon Al-Ahmadi Reid - EJP 2009

The perceptions, views and opinions of university students about physics learning during undergraduate laboratory work
Eur. J. Phys. 30 85-96 (2009)

M Hanif, P H Sneddon, F M Al-Ahmadi and N Reid

The physics laboratory has long been a distinctive feature of physics education. It has been given a central role in the teaching and learning of physics at school and undergraduate levels in universities. The literature indicates that science educators have suggested that there are academically rich benefits in the learning and understanding of physics based on laboratory work. However, some educators have begun to raise serious and valid questions about the effectiveness of the learning through laboratory work in science subjects and the heavy cost for the establishment and maintenance of laboratories. This research paper provides perspectives on these issues through a brief review of the history, goals and objectives related to the physics undergraduate laboratory. An empirical research study was conducted to determine the university students' perceptions, views and opinions with regard to physics learning during undergraduate laboratory work. This involved 143 students from first and higher years and the evidence was gathered by survey and focus group interviews, the former using a variety of types of questions. The evidence from the students is positive and suggests that undergraduate physics laboratory work may well be contributing towards the achievement of specific desirable goals.


van Eijck Hsu Roth - Science Education 2008

Translations of scientific practice to "students' images of science"
Science Education online publication

Michiel van Eijck, Pei-Ling Hsu, Wolff-Michael Roth

In the science education research literature, it often appears to be assumed that students "possess" more or less stable "images of science" that directly correspond to their experiences with scientific practice in science curricula. From cultural-historical and sociocultural perspectives, this assumption is problematic because scientific practices are collective human activities and are therefore neither identical with students' experiences nor with the accounts of these experiences that students make available to researchers. "Students' images of science" are therefore translated from (rather than directly correspond to) scientific practices. Drawing on data collected during and after preuniversity biology students' internships in a scientific laboratory, we exemplify the role of these translations in the production of "students' images of science." A coarse-grained analysis based on existing research showed our data to be comparable with earlier studies on "students' images of science." A fine-grained analysis shows how "students' images of science" were coproduced along a trajectory of translations that was determined by the use of particular actions and tools, and a particular division of labor in scientific practice. We propose to reconceptualize "students' images of science" as particular coproductions at a given point in time. The methodological and educational implications of this proposal are discussed.

van Gog Paas Marcus Ayres Sweller - Ed Psych Review 2008

The Mirror Neuron System and Observational Learning: Implications for the Effectiveness of Dynamic Visualizations
Educational Psychology Review online first publication

Tamara van Gog, Fred Paas, Nadine Marcus, Paul Ayres, John Sweller

Learning by observing and imitating others has long been recognized as constituting a powerful learning strategy for humans. Recent findings from neuroscience research, more specifically on the mirror neuron system, begin to provide insight into the neural bases of learning by observation and imitation. These findings are discussed here, along with their potential consequences for the design of instruction, focusing in particular on the effectiveness of dynamic vs. static visualizations.

Gray Adams Wieman Perkins - PRST-PER 2008

Students know what physicists believe, but they don’t agree: A study using the CLASS survey
Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 4, 020106 (2008)

Kara E. Gray, Wendy K. Adams, Carl E. Wieman, and Katherine K. Perkins

We measured what students perceive physicists to believe about physics and solving physics problems and how those perceptions differ from the students’ personal beliefs. In this study, we used a modified version of the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey which asked students to respond to each statement with both their personal belief and the response they thought a physicist would give. Students from three different types of university introductory physics courses were studied. Students who have not yet taken physics in college have a surprisingly accurate idea of what physicists believe about physics no matter what their high school background and what physics courses they choose to take in college. These ideas are largely unaffected by their college physics instruction. In contrast, students’ personal beliefs about physics differ with varying high school physics backgrounds and college physics courses in which they enroll, and these beliefs are affected by college physics instruction. Women have a larger difference between their reported personal beliefs and their perceptions of physicists’ beliefs than do men.


Sayre Wittmann - PRST-PER 2008

Plasticity of intermediate mechanics students’ coordinate system choice
Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 4, 020105 (2008)

Eleanor C. Sayre, Michael C. Wittmann

We investigate the interplay between mathematics and physics resources in intermediate mechanics students. In the mechanics course, the selection and application of coordinate systems is a consistent thread. At the University of Maine, students often start the course with a strong preference to use Cartesian coordinates, in accordance with their prior physics and mathematics classes. In small-group interviews and in homework help sessions, we ask students to define a coordinate system and set up the equations of motion for a simple pendulum for which polar coordinates are more appropriate. We analyze video data from several encounters using a combination of Process/Object theory and Resource Theory. We find that students sometimes persist in using an inappropriate Cartesian system. Furthermore, students often derive (rather than recall) the details of the polar coordinate system, indicating that their knowledge is far from solid. To describe our work more precisely, we define a scale of plasticity and several heuristics for defining resources and their plasticity.


Clough Berg Olson - IJSME 2008

Promoting Effective Science Teacher Education And Science Teaching: A Framework For Teacher Decision-Making

Int.J. Science and Math Education 11/5/08 7:31 PM

Michael P. Clough, Craig A. Berg, Joanne K. Olson

Learning and effective teaching are both complicated acts. However, many administrators, teachers, parents, and policymakers appear not to recognize those complexities and their significance for practice. Fueling this perception, recommendations from isolated research findings often neglect the complexities in learning and teaching, and when implemented in classrooms often fall well short of the advertised effect. Consequently, education research is generally ignored, and the resulting research-practice gap raises concerns regarding the utility of university-based teacher education, and education research more generally. However, the strength of education research resides in the synergy resulting from its integration into a unifying system that guides, but does not determine, decision-making. Dewey (1929) argued for teacher decision-making guided by education research, but recently several writers have justly criticized education researchers for not providing comprehensible assistance to educators and policymakers (Good, 2007; Shymansky, 2006; Windschitl, 2005). This paper proposes a decision-making framework for teaching to help beginning and experienced teachers make sense of education research, come to understand crucial teacher decisions, and how those decisions interact to affect student learning. The proposed decision-making framework for teaching has significant utility in the design of science methods courses, science teacher education programs, effective student teacher supervision experiences, and professional development workshops.


Claesgens Scalise Wilson Stacy - Science Education 2008

Mapping student understanding in chemistry: The Perspectives of Chemists
Science Education 1-30, 2008

Jennifer Claesgens, Kathleen Scalise, Mark Wilson, Angelica Stacy

Preliminary pilot studies and a field study show how a generalizable conceptual framework calibrated with item response modeling can be used to describe the development of student conceptual understanding in chemistry. ChemQuery is an assessment system that uses a framework of the key ideas in the discipline, called the Perspectives of Chemists, and criterion-referenced analysis using item response models (item response theory (IRT)) to map student progress. It includes assessment questions, a scoring rubric, item exemplars, and a framework to describe the paths of student understanding that emerge. Integral to criterion-referenced measurement is a focus on what is being measured: the intention of the assessment, its purpose, and the context in which it is going to be used. The Perspectives framework allows us to begin to narrate the development of understanding that occurs as students "learn'' over the course of instruction, helping to form a crosswalk among educational science standards and underscore the importance of scientific reasoning with domain knowledge. Here, we explain a framework we have investigated in chemistry and present evidence on measures of student understanding to describe the development of conceptual understanding at the high school and university levels.

Sampson Clark - Science Education 2008

The impact of collaboration on the outcomes of scientific argumentation
Science Education 1-37, 2008

Victor Sampson, Douglas Clark

This study examines three questions about the impact of collaboration during scientific argumentation. First, do groups craft better arguments than individuals? Second, to what degree do individuals adopt and internalize the arguments crafted by their group? Third, do individuals who work in groups learn more from their experiences than individuals who work on their own? To examine these questions, 168 high school chemistry students were randomly assigned, using a matched pair design to collaborative or individual argumentation conditions. Students in both treatment conditions first completed a task that required them to produce an argument articulating and justifying an explanation for a discrepant event. The students then completed mastery and transfer problems on their own. The results of this study indicate that (a) groups of students did not produce better arguments than students who worked alone, (b) a substantial proportion of the students adopted at least some elements of their group's argument, and (c) students from the collaborative condition demonstrated superior performance on the mastery and transfer problems. These observations indicate that collaboration was beneficial for individual learning but not for initial performance on the task. The study concludes with a discussion of these observations and recommendations for future research.


Teaching of Psychology, complete issue - 2008

Teaching of Psychology, Volume 35 Issue 4 2008

The journal Teaching of Psychology has an issue on the scholarship of teaching and learning within psychology. For those of us interested in the field of PER from a structural perspective, there are interesting parallels and differences to observe. Some papers stand out, based on the interests of some of us in PER:

Using Yes–No Recognition Tests to Assess Student Memory for Course Content
Pages 319 - 326
Dale L. Smith; Lewis Barker

A Social-Cognitive Approach to Training Teaching Assistants
Pages 327 - 334
Meera Komarraju

Check out the rest - some parts sound really interesting, as a field looks at itself and the work that it does.

Why reviewer lists matter.

Once again, an administrative entry into the blog.

If you have a chance, go and read the list of reviewers for the journals that you follow. An example is here, from JLS. No matter what the journal, you'll notice some names you know, and you'll be able to talk to them about the journal. What's the review process like? Do you see your fellow reviewer's comments? What helps, what does not? How does the editor work with the authors, with the reviewers?

Then you'll have a better ability to choose whether to submit there or not. Because the point of this endeavor is to debate each other's work privately and publicly through publications. Nothing else lasts. That talk you gave 4 summers ago? We all forgot it. But the paper you wrote about it? You can cite that, we can look it up, and that matters.

Goldstone Wilensky - JLS 2008

Promoting Transfer by Grounding Complex Systems Principles
Journal of the Learning Sciences, Volume 17, Issue 4 October 2008 , pages 465 - 516

Robert L. Goldstone and Uri Wilensky

Understanding scientific phenomena in terms of complex systems principles is both scientifically and pedagogically important. Situations from different disciplines of science are often governed by the same principle, and so promoting knowledge transfer across disciplines makes valuable cross-fertilization and scientific unification possible. Although evidence for this kind of transfer has historically been controversial, experiments and observations of students suggest pedagogical methods for promoting transfer of complex systems principles. One powerful strategy is for students to actively interpret the elements and interactions of perceptually grounded scenarios. Such interpretation can be facilitated through the presentation of a situation alongside a description of how the agents in the situation are behaving, and by students exploring and constructing computational models of the situation. The resulting knowledge can be both concretely grounded yet highly perspective dependent and generalizeable. We discuss methods for coordinating computational and mental models of complex systems, the roles of idealization and concreteness in fostering understanding and generalization, and other complementary theoretical approaches to achieving transfer.

Moschkovich - JLS 2008

“I Went by Twos, He Went by One”: Multiple Interpretations of Inscriptions as Resources for Mathematical Discussions
Journal of the Learning Sciences, Volume 17, Issue 4 October 2008 , pages 551 - 587

Judit N. Moschkovich

This article examines a classroom discussion of multiple interpretations of the scales on two distance versus time graphs. The analysis describes how two students and a teacher used multiple meanings for phrases of the form “I went by” and coordinated these meanings with different views of the scales. Students' ambiguous and shifting meanings did not prove to be obstacles to this discussion. Instead, this teacher used student interpretations as resources, built on them, and connected them to canonical mathematical concepts—in particular by highlighting (Goodwin, 1994) a “unitized” (Lamon, 1994, 1996, 2007) view of the scales. Research in mathematics education describes teaching that promotes conceptual development as having two central features: One is that teachers and students attend explicitly to concepts, and the other is that students wrestle with important mathematics (Hiebert & Grouws, 2007). Not only does this classroom discussion provide an example that it is possible to balance these two features, but the analysis provides the details of how instruction can simultaneously provide explicit attention to concepts while allowing students to wrestle with these concepts.

Taber - IJSE 2008

Exploring Conceptual Integration in Student Thinking: Evidence from a case study
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 30, Issue 14 November 2008 , pages 1915 - 1943

Keith S. Taber

Two reasons are suggested for studying the degree of conceptual integration in student thinking. The linking of new material to existing knowledge is an important aspect of meaningful learning. It is also argued that conceptual coherence is a characteristic of scientific knowledge and a criterion used in evaluating new theories. Appreciating this 'scientific value' should be one objective when students learn about the nature of science. These considerations imply that students should not only learn individual scientific models and principles, but should be taught to see how they are linked together. The present paper describes the use of an interview protocol designed to explore conceptual integration across two college-level subjects (chemistry and physics). The novelty here is that a single interview is used to elicit explanations of a wide range of phenomena. The potential of this approach is demonstrated through an account of one student's scientific thinking, showing both how she applied fundamental ideas widely, and also where conceptual integration was lacking. The value and limitations of using this type of interview as one means for researching conceptual integration in students' thinking are discussed.

Even Kvatinsky - IJSME 2008

Approaches To Teaching Mathematics In Lower-Achieving Classes
Int.J. Science and Math Education

Ruhama Even, Tova Kvatinsky

This study examines a commonly held view that teachers tend to focus less on developing understanding and more on mechanistic answer-finding when teaching in classes of lower-achieving students. The study investigates this by analyzing actual practices of teaching mathematics and of classroom interactions in classes having different levels taught by the same teacher. Four classes taught by two teachers participated in the study. Each teacher taught the same probability syllabus in two of the classes; one class of higher- and one of lower-achieving students. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of observed teaching practices and classroom interactions suggest that one teacher adopted a teaching for mechanistic answer-finding approach in both of her classes, whereas the other teacher used a teaching-for-understanding approach. In contrast with current literature, both teaching approaches were somewhat amplified in the lower-level class of each teacher. The manuscript suggests that in their own way, each teacher attempted to help more those students who encountered more difficulties—the lower-achieving students—and they did so by using the resources available to them. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Cross - IJSME 2008

Creating Optimal Mathematics Learning Environments: Combining Argumentation And Writing To Enhance Achievement

Int.J. Science and Math Education

Dionne I. Cross

The issue of mathematics underachievement among students has been an increasing international concern over the last few decades. Research suggests that academic success can be achieved by focusing on both the individual and social aspects of learning. Within the area of mathematics education, the development of metacognitive skills and the incorporation of discourse in classroom instruction has resulted in students having deeper conceptual understandings of the content and increased mathematical achievement. However, studies in this field tend to focus on the effects of these practices separately, making research that seeks to harness the potential of both quite rare. This paper reports on a study that was aimed at addressing this gap in the literature by examining the effects of writing and argumentation on achievement. Two hundred and eleven students and five teachers participated in this multimethod study that investigated the effects of three treatment conditions on mathematical achievement. These conditions were writing alone, argumentation alone, and writing and argumentation combined. Analysis of covariance revealed significant differences between the groups, and tests of the contrasts showed that students who engaged in both argumentation and writing had greater knowledge gains than students who engaged in argumentation alone or neither activity.

Munger - Cognitive Daily 2008

Does the use of hand gestures slow language learning?
David Munger

This isn't really about physics, but it's about gestures and language development, which should be of interest to us. Plus, it's a neat blog.

From the article:

But what happens if a child is particularly successful at expressing her needs using gestures? Does development of spoken language suffer? One approach to this problem is to look language development in cultures that tend to use more gestures. Many studies have confirmed the "stereotype" that Italians are more physically expressive than other groups. It stands to reason that even Italian infants probably learn more gestures at an earlier age than babies in other cultures.

Returning to posting

Greetings, all you regulars. Sorry for the relative delay in posting here in the past month. Honestly, I haven't incorporated this into my work flow appropriately since coming back to the US. But, I think I can get a handle on it, and you can get that extra fine PER goodness delivered to your RSS reader more easily.

You are using an RSS reader to collect these articles, right?


Otero Gray - Phys Rev 2008

Attitudinal gains across multiple universities using the Physics and Everyday Thinking curriculum
Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 4, 020104 (2008) [7 pages]

Valerie K. Otero and Kara E. Gray

Instructional techniques based on research in cognitive science and physics education have been used in physics courses to enhance student learning. While dramatic increases in conceptual understanding have been observed, students enrolled in these courses tend to move away from scientistlike views of the discipline and toward novicelike views, as measured by various assessment instruments. It has been proposed that course materials and instruction that explicitly address epistemology, the nature of science, and the nature of learning science will help students develop views more closely aligned with the views of scientists. The Physics and Everyday Thinking (PET) curriculum has specific goals for helping nonscience majors explicitly reflect on the nature of science and the nature of learning science. We show that in PET courses with small and large enrollments, shifts toward expert responses ranged from +4% to +16.5% on the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey. These results are compared to results from other studies using a variety of similar assessment instruments.


McKagan Perkins Wieman - Phys Rev 2008

Deeper look at student learning of quantum mechanics: The case of tunneling
Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 4, 020103 (2008)

S. B. McKagan, K. K. Perkins, and C. E. Wieman

We report on a large-scale study of student learning of quantum tunneling in four traditional and four transformed modern physics courses. In the transformed courses, which were designed to address student difficulties found in previous research, students still struggle with many of the same issues found in other courses. However, the reasons for these difficulties are more subtle, and many new issues are brought to the surface. By explicitly addressing how to build models of wave functions and energy and how to relate these models to real physical systems, we have opened up a floodgate of deep and difficult questions as students struggle to make sense of these models. We conclude that the difficulties found in previous research are the tip of the iceberg, and the real issue at the heart of student difficulties in learning quantum tunneling is the struggle to build the complex models that are implicit in experts’ understanding but often not explicitly addressed in instruction.

(Note that a pre-print of this paper was already listed on this blog. See here.)

Russ Coffey Hammer Hutchison - Science Education 2008

Making classroom assessment more accountable to scientific reasoning: A case for attending to mechanistic thinking
Sci Ed 1-17, 2008

Rosemary S. Russ, Janet E. Coffey, David Hammer, Paul Hutchison

When teachers or students assess the quality of ideas in science classes, they do so mostly based on textbook correctness; ideas are good to the extent they align with or lead to the content as presented in the textbook or curriculum. Such appeals to authority are at odds with the values and practices within the disciplines of science. There has been significant amount of attention to this mismatch in the science education research literature, primarily with respect to experimentation and argumentation as core disciplinary means of assessing ideas. In this article, we call attention to another aspect of scientific reasoning: a focus on causal mechanisms in explaining natural phenomena. We highlight examples and research from the history and philosophy of science to clarify what scientists mean by mechanism and to make the case for its centrality. We then present an excerpt from a second-grade class in which a student provides an incorrect mechanistic explanation, and the teacher gives priority to textbook correctness. As the conversation proceeds, the student shifts from mechanistic sensemaking to quoting terminology she does not understand. We argue that attention to mechanism in the classroom would better support student reasoning and better reflect disciplinary epistemology.


Liang Yuan - IJSE 2008

Examining the Alignment of Chinese National Physics Curriculum Guidelines and 12th-grade Exit Examinations: A case study
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 30, Issue 13 October 2008 , pages 1823 - 1835

Ling L. Liang; Haiquan Yuan

This study reports findings from an analysis of the 2002 Chinese National Physics Curriculum Guidelines and the alignment between the curriculum guidelines and two most recent provincial-level 12th-grade exit examinations in China. Both curriculum guidelines and test content were represented using two-dimensional matrices (i.e., topic by level of cognitive demands) and the Porter's alignment indices were reported. It appeared that the curriculum documents and the standardized examinations mostly emphasized student understanding of fundamental principles and concepts of physics. Moreover, the two examinations consistently over-represented the curriculum at both application and analysis cognitive levels. The study also indicated that neither the organization of the current curriculum guidelines nor the exit assessments encourage creativity, critical thinking, and the development of students' abilities to conduct scientific inquiry. The findings of this study can be used for comparative studies of different countries' science curriculum standards and assessment systems, and can provide insights into the improvement of science education from an international perspective.

Kaplan - Ed Psych Review

Clarifying Metacognition, Self-Regulation, and Self-Regulated Learning: What’s the Purpose?

Educational Psychology Review

Avi Kaplan

In this commentary on the special issue, I join the authors in searching for a conceptual framework that would clarify the concepts of metacognition, self-regulation, and self-regulated learning. Building on the insights of the different articles, I suggest that metacognition, self-regulation, and self-regulated learning should be considered as subtypes of the general, abstract, phenomenon of self-regulated action. I continue by questioning the benefit of seeking boundaries between these three concepts. Instead, I propose to search for dimensions along which types of self-regulated action vary. I, then, introduce the notion of a “multidimensional conceptual space of self-regulated action” as a conceptual tool that allows for diversity of conceptions of self-regulated action while maintaining conceptual clarity. I conclude by highlighting the central role of purpose of engagement in self-regulated action and by noting its potential for guiding the search for meaningful dimensions on which to typify self-regulation.

Hug McNeill - IJSE 2008

Use of First-hand and Second-hand Data in Science: Does data type influence classroom conversations?
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 30, Issue 13 October 2008 , pages 1725 - 175

Barbara Hug; Katherine L. McNeill

In this paper, we examine how students discuss and interpret data and whether these actions vary depending on the type of data they analyse. More specifically, we are interested in whether students perform differently when analysing first-hand data, which they collect themselves, compared with second-hand data provided to them. Our data analysis focused on two classrooms using two different curriculum units, chemistry in Grade 7 and biology in Grade 8, collected during the 2002/03 school year from a Mid-western urban middle school in the USA. We analysed classroom videotape associated with lessons in which students discussed first-hand and second-hand data both in small group settings and full class discussions. We found the two types of data offer different benefits and limitations, suggesting that both types of data are important for students to work with as they develop skills in scientific inquiry practices. We discuss the characteristics of classroom discussions around different data sources as well as implications for the design of curriculum materials, instructional environments, and student learning in science.

Thomas Anderson Nashon - IJSE 2008

Development of an Instrument Designed to Investigate Elements of Science Students' Metacognition, Self-Efficacy and Learning Processes: The SEMLI-S
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 30, Issue 13 October 2008 , pages 1701 - 1724

Gregory Thomas; David Anderson; Samson Nashon

The development and evaluation of science students' metacognition, learning processes and self-efficacy are important for improving science education. This paper reports on the development of an empirical self-report instrument for providing a measure of students' metacognition, self-efficacy and constructivist science learning processes. A review of the range of literature related to metacognition, self-regulation and constructivist learning processes resulted in the development of an initial bilingual (English and traditional Chinese) instrument composed of 72 items. This instrument was completed by 465 Hong Kong high school students. The data collected were subjected to exploratory factor analysis and Rasch analysis. The subsequent refinement process resulted in a final version of the Self-Efficacy and Metacognition Learning Inventory - Science (SEMLI-S) consisting of 30 items that can be used for either analysing and focusing on any or all of its dimensions or for assigning scores to individuals that enable comparison between them in relation to their metacognitive science learning orientations.

Basu - JRST 2008

How students design and enact physics lessons: Five immigrant caribbean youth and the cultivation of student voice
J Res Sci Teach 45: 881-899, 2008

Sreyashi Jhumki Basu

An array of data suggests that low-income, minority students are excluded from a high-quality physics education. The education literature proposes that cultivating student voice in classrooms helps youth feel a deeper, more meaningful connection with school. However, limited data exist in the physics education literature on how student voice is expressed. The purpose of this study was to use critical ethnography to explore how student voice developed in the context of a ninth-grade conceptual physics class. I developed case studies of five immigrant Caribbean youth from student, family and teacher interviews, participant observations and field notes. I relied on grounded theory as an analytic technique. Findings suggest that in expressing voice, youth designed lessons reflective of their identities, leveraged and enhanced their epistemic and positional authority (two new constructs I propose in this manuscript), and creatively utilized physics and school-sponsored resources. This information about how students express voice has implications for how they learn physics, how critical theory is connected with physics classroom practice, and how student identity, shared authority and youth agency develop in physics classrooms.

Geier Blumenfeld Marx Krajcik Fishman Soloway Clay-Chambers - JRST 2008

Standardized test outcomes for students engaged in inquiry-based science curricula in the context of urban reform
J Res Sci Teach 45: 922-939, 2008

Robert Geier, Phyllis C. Blumenfeld, Ronald W. Marx, Joseph S. Krajcik, Barry Fishman, Elliot Soloway, Juanita Clay-Chambers

Considerable effort has been made over the past decade to address the needs of learners in large urban districts through scaleable reform initiatives. We examine the effects of a multifaceted scaling reform that focuses on supporting standards based science teaching in urban middle schools. The effort was one component of a systemic reform effort in the Detroit Public Schools, and was centered on highly specified and developed project-based inquiry science units supported by aligned professional development and learning technologies. Two cohorts of 7th and 8th graders that participated in the project units are compared with the remainder of the district population, using results from the high-stakes state standardized test in science. Both the initial and scaled up cohorts show increases in science content understanding and process skills over their peers, and significantly higher pass rates on the statewide test. The relative gains occur up to a year and a half after participation in the curriculum, and show little attenuation with in the second cohort when scaling occurred and the number of teachers involved increased. The effect of participation in units at different grade levels is independent and cumulative, with higher levels of participation associated with similarly higher achievement scores. Examination of results by gender reveals that the curriculum effort succeeds in reducing the gender gap in achievement experienced by urban African-American boys. These findings demonstrate that standards-based, inquiry science curriculum can lead to standardized achievement test gains in historically underserved urban students, when the curriculum is highly specified, developed, and aligned with professional development and administrative support.


Hill Blunk Charalambous Lewis Phelps Sleep Ball - C&I 2008

Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching and the Mathematical Quality of Instruction: An Exploratory Study
Cognition and Instruction, Volume 26, Number 4 (October 2008), 430 - 511

Heather Hill, Merrie Blunk, Charalambos Charalambous, Jennifer Lewis, Geoffrey Phelps, Laurie Sleep, Deborah Loewenberg Ball

This study illuminates claims that teachers' mathematical knowledge plays an important role in their teaching of this subject matter. In particular, we focus on teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT), which includes both the mathematical knowledge that is common to individuals working in diverse professions and the mathematical knowledge that is specialized to teaching. We use a series of five case studies and associated quantitative data to detail how MKT is associated with the mathematical quality of instruction. Although there is a significant, strong, and positive association between levels of MKT and the mathematical quality of instruction, we also find that there are a number of important factors that mediate this relationship, either supporting or hindering teachers' use of knowledge in practice.

diSessa - C&I 2008

A “Theory Bite” on the Meaning of Scientific Inquiry: A Companion to Kuhn and Pease
Cognition and Instruction, Volume 26, Issue 4 October 2008 , pages 427 - 429

Andrea diSessa

No abstract given, but here's a description of a "theory bite" that suggests why you should read this:

With respect to dialectical approaches and also to theory, I have taken the privilege of exemplifying a small innovation focused on both of these in this issue. I call the genre a “theory bite,” and it was suggested to me by Bruce Sherin. The idea is to comment briefly on the theoretical perspective of a work in such a way as to (a) succinctly identify and clarify a theoretical position in an article, and (b) situate it with respect to alternatives. “Essences and possibilities” might be a helpful slogan. This is largely an analytical enterprise, and it can usually be carried out without the author staking a position. I hope for simple, clear, and short expositions that can illuminate background assumptions for senior researchers, and attune junior researchers to perspectives that they may miss because researchers in particular lines seldom go back to first principles, and, similarly, they seldom review very different framings. This dialectical genre is tricky to nurture. Editors in charge may be the best people to think about possible contributions, but rarely will they be the best people to make the contribution. It is easier to identify people who are allies of positions and lines, and those who will dispute them. Where neutral but illuminating analytical perspectives can come from is more problematic. So, initiative on the part of readers and contributors is urgently requested. You may use my note on the Kuhn and Pease article in this issue as a model, but I hope this modest example also spurs different and better innovations. Obviously, feedback on genres we do or could try out is strongly invited.

Kuhn Pease - C&I 2008

What Needs to Develop in the Development of Inquiry Skills?
Cognition and Instruction, Volume 26, Issue 4 October 2008 , pages 512 - 559

Deanna Kuhn; Maria Pease

To identify the challenges that students must meet to engage in effective self-directed inquiry, a class was followed for three years, from the fourth through the sixth grades, as they engaged in a sequence of progressively more demanding inquiry activities. Students made substantial progress in understanding the objectives of inquiry, identifying questions, attending to evidence, identifying patterns, making controlled comparisons, interpreting increasingly complex data, supporting claims, and drawing justified conclusions. Retaining awareness of inquiry objectives and integrating influences of multiple variables in predicting outcomes were two areas that remained challenging. A comparison group of seventh graders who had not been involved in the program displayed strikingly different approaches to an inquiry task, indicating that the skills identified here are not ones that develop in the absence of appropriate kinds of educational experiences.


Lajoie - Ed Psych Review 2008

Metacognition, Self Regulation, and Self-regulated Learning: A Rose by any other Name?
Ed Psych Review online first

Susanne P. Lajoie

This commentary reviews the distinctions researchers make in defining metacognition, self-regulation, and self-regulated learning along with the methods used to explore these constructs. Bandura’s notion of reciprocal determinism (1977) is revisited in the context of situated learning, whereby interactions between the person, behavior, and environment take on new meaning when examining learning and affect in specific contexts where knowledge is constructed through interacting with all that the environment affords, be that material or human. The interaction between the mind and environment continues to be an interesting question with regard to these three constructs, and this interaction can be explored by using computers as cognitive tools. Technology-rich environments are described that provide opportunities for assessing and validating metacognition, self-regulation, and self-regulated learning with future directions for assessing co-regulation of teams of learners.

(note the similarly titled paper here.)


Rappaport Ashkenazi - IJSE 2008

Connecting Levels of Representation: Emergent versus submergent perspective
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 30, Issue 12 October 2008 , pages 1585 - 1603

Lana T. Rappoport; Guy Ashkenazi

Chemical phenomena can be described using three representation modes: macro, submicro, and symbolic. The way students use and connect these modes when solving conceptual problems was studied, using a think-aloud interview protocol. The protocol was validated through interviews with six faculty members, and then applied to four graduate and six undergraduate chemistry students. We used a 'levels of complexity' framework to analyse responses: the macro and symbolic modes were considered system-level representations, and the submicro mode a component-level representation. We found that faculty members thought of system-level properties as emerging from mechanistic interactions between particles on the component level—an emergent perspective. In many cases, the students either failed to connect the system and component levels, or thought of system-level properties as guiding the behaviour of particles on the component level—a 'submergent' perspective. Some students used their familiarity with a symbolic equation describing the behaviour of a substance as the starting point of a thought process that leads them to impose mechanistically unwarrantable behaviour upon its particles. We concluded that a submergent perspective inhibits students from confronting their misconceptions regarding particle behaviour, and explains why students are often able to correctly solve algorithmic problems while failing to solve conceptual ones. It is suggested that the directionality of connecting particle behaviour to system-level properties should be emphasized in teaching.

Buty Mortimer - IJSE 2008

Dialogic/Authoritative Discourse and Modelling in a High School Teaching Sequence on Optics
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 30, Issue 12 October 2008 , pages 1635 - 1660

Christian Buty; Eduardo F. Mortimer

In this paper we aim to establish a link between two theoretical frames: modelling and its use in the design and analysis of scientific teaching sequences, and the communicative approaches as they alternate in classroom activities. In this case study, we follow the interactions between the teacher and a pair of students during an entire teaching sequence in Optics (grade 11). We focus on the way the teacher managed the dialogicity and the modelling processes in the classroom discourse. A qualitative analysis shows some difficulties in such an achievement, and their consequences on students' meaning making.


Fuchs Fuchs Stuebing Fletcher Hamlett Lambert - J Educational Psychology 2008

Problem solving and computational skill: Are they shared or distinct aspects of mathematical cognition?
Journal of Educational Psychology. 2008 Feb Vol 100(1) 30-47

Fuchs, Lynn S.; Fuchs, Douglas; Stuebing, Karla; Fletcher, Jack M.; Hamlett, Carol L.; Lambert, Warren

The purpose of this study was to explore patterns of difficulty in 2 domains of mathematical cognition: computation and problem solving. Third graders (n = 924; 47.3% male) were representatively sampled from 89 classrooms; assessed on computation and problem solving; classified as having difficulty with computation, problem solving, both domains, or neither domain; and measured on 9 cognitive dimensions. Difficulty occurred across domains with the same prevalence as difficulty with a single domain; specific difficulty was distributed similarly across domains. Multivariate profile analysis on cognitive dimensions and chi-square tests on demographics showed that specific computational difficulty was associated with strength in language and weaknesses in attentive behavior and processing speed; problem-solving difficulty was associated with deficient language as well as race and poverty. Implications for understanding mathematics competence and for the identification and treatment of mathematics difficulties are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)

DeLeeuw Mayer - J Educational Psychology 2008

A comparison of three measures of cognitive load: Evidence for separable measures of intrinsic, extraneous, and germane load

Journal of Educational Psychology. 2008 Feb Vol 100(1) 223-234

DeLeeuw, Krista E.; Mayer, Richard E.

Understanding how to measure cognitive load is a fundamental challenge for cognitive load theory. In 2 experiments, 155 college students (ages = 17 to 22; 49 men and 106 women) with low domain knowledge learned from a multimedia lesson on electric motors. At 8 points during learning, their cognitive load was measured via self-report scales (mental effort ratings) and response time to a secondary visual monitoring task, and they completed a difficulty rating scale at the end of the lesson. Correlations among the three measures were generally low. Analyses of variance indicated that the response time measure was most sensitive to manipulations of extraneous processing (created by adding redundant text), effort ratings were most sensitive to manipulations of intrinsic processing (created by sentence complexity), and difficulty ratings were most sensitive to indications of germane processing (reflected by transfer test performance). Results are consistent with a triarchic theory of cognitive load in which different aspects of cognitive load may be tapped by different measures of cognitive load. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)

Mason Gava Boldrin - J Educational Psychology 2008

On warm conceptual change: The interplay of text, epistemological beliefs, and topic interest.
Journal of Educational Psychology. 2008 May Vol 100(2) 291-309

Mason, Lucia; Gava, Monica; Boldrin, Angela

The aim of this study was to go further than considering only cognitive factors to extend the understanding of the complex, dynamic underlying knowledge revision processes. Fifth graders were assigned to 2 reading conditions. Participants in 1 condition read a refutational text about light, whereas participants in the other read a traditional text. Within each reading condition, students had more or less advanced beliefs about scientific knowledge (complex and evolving vs. simple and certain), as well as high or low topic interest. Overall findings from pretest to immediate and delayed posttests showed that knowledge revision was affected by several interactions among the variables examined. Students who attained the highest scores at both the immediate and delayed posttests were those who had read the refutational text and had high topic interest, as well as more advanced beliefs about scientific knowledge. In particular, the refutational text was more powerful in prompting a restructuring of alternative conceptions about 2 of the 3 light phenomena examined. In addition, students preferred the innovative text to the traditional textbook text.

Another blog: Educational Research Journals

For those who enjoy these links, I suggest you also check out the following blog:

Educational Research Journals

There, you can find links to the tables of contents of major journals in educational research. No, it's not physics alone, but yes, you should be paying attention. Some of the journals are really top quality, and some of the articles are things that we in PER should be paying more attention to.

-- Michael Wittmann

Klaczynski - J Cognition and Development 2006

Learning, Belief Biases, and Metacognition
Journal of Cognition and Development, Volume 7, Issue 3 August 2006 , pages 295 - 300

Paul A. Klaczynski

Evidence from dual-process and cognitive behavioral theorists points to the conclusion that the products of associative learning are sometimes available in working memory. Adolescents, adults, and children (to a lesser extent) can engage in metacognitive intercession, reflecting on the products of associative processing and deciding whether to assimilate these products to existing knowledge or create new levels of understanding. To highlight my arguments, I discuss research on belief-biased reasoning and an intervention that reduced reasoning biases.

Namy Newcombe (review Goldin-Meadow) - J Cognition and Development

More than Just Hand Waving: Review of Hearing Gestures: How Our Hands Help Us Think
Journal of Cognition and Development, Volume 9, Issue 2 April 2008 , pages 247 - 252

Laura L. Namy; Nora S. Newcombe

Susan Goldin-Meadow's Hearing Gestures: How Our Hands Help Us to Think synthesizes findings from various domains to demonstrate that gestures convey meaning and comprise a critical and fundamental form of communication. She also argues convincingly for the cognitive utility of gesture for the gesturer. Goldin-Meadow presents an airtight case that gesture is more than just hand waving and serves as an essential tool for studying the mind.

Jeong Levine Huttenlocher - J Cognition and Development

The Development of Proportional Reasoning: Effect of Continuous Versus Discrete Quantities
Journal of Cognition and Development, Volume 8, Issue 2 April 2007 , pages 237 - 256

Authors: Yoonkyung Jeong; Susan C. Levine; Janellen Huttenlocher

This study examines the development of children's ability to reason about proportions that involve either discrete entities or continuous amounts. Six-, 8- and 10-year olds were presented with a proportional reasoning task in the context of a game involving probability. Although all age groups failed when proportions involved discrete quantities, even the youngest age group showed some success when proportions involved continuous quantities. These findings indicate that quantity type strongly affects children's ability to make judgments of proportion. Children's greater success in judging proportions involving continuous quantities appears to be related to their use of different strategies in the presence of countable versus noncountable entities. In two discrete conditions, children—particularly 8- and 10-year-olds—adopted an erroneous counting strategy, considering the number of target elements but not the relation between target and nontarget elements, either in terms of number or amount. In contrast, in the continuous condition, when it was not possible to count, children may have relied on an early developing ability to code the relative amounts of target and nontarget regions.

McDonald Butler Songer - Science Education 2008

Enacting classroom inquiry: Theorizing teachers' conceptions of science teaching
Science Education, Volume 92, Number 6 (November 2008), p. 973 - 993

Scott McDonald, Nancy Butler Songer

Translating written curricular materials into rich, complex, learning environments is an undertheorized area in science education. This study examines two critical cases of teachers enacting a technology-rich curriculum focused on the development of complex reasoning around biodiversity for fifth graders. Two elements emerged that significantly impact teacher enactment - their conceptions of authenticity (authentic learning/authentic science) and their view of science (descriptive/inferential). The results suggest that disentangling the common conflation of these two elements supports a broader definition of inquiry science teaching that is more sensitive to context and individual teacher enactment.


Smith Wittmann - PRST-PER 2008

Applying a resources framework to analysis of the Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation
Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 4, 020101 (2008) [12 pages]

Trevor I. Smith and Michael C. Wittmann

We suggest one redefinition of common clusters of questions used to analyze student responses on the Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation. Our goal is to propose a methodology that moves beyond an analysis of student learning defined by correct responses, either on the overall test or on clusters of questions defined solely by content. We use the resources framework theory of learning to define clusters within this experimental test that was designed without the resources framework in mind. We take special note of the contextual and representational dependence of questions with seemingly similar physics content. We analyze clusters in ways that allow the most common incorrect answers to give as much, or more, information as the correctness of responses in that cluster. We show that false positives can be found, especially on questions dealing with Newton’s third law. We apply our clustering to a small set of data to illustrate the value of comparing students’ incorrect responses which are otherwise identical on a correct or incorrect analysis. Our work provides a connection between theory and experiment in the area of survey design and the resources framework.

Ogilvie - arxiv.org 2008

Impact of Context-Rich, Multifaceted Problems on Students' Attitudes Towards Problem-Solving

C.A. Ogilvie

Most students struggle when faced with complex and ill-structured tasks because the strategies taught in schools and universities simply require finding and applying the correct formulae or strategy to answer well-structured, algorithmic problems. For students to develop their ability to solve ill-structured problems, they must first believe that standardized procedural approaches will not always be sufficient for solving ill-structured engineering and scientific challenges. In this paper we document the range of beliefs university students have about problem-solving. Students enrolled in a physics course submitted a written reflection both at the start and the end of the course on how they solve problems. We coded approximately 500 of these reflections for the presence of different problem-solving approaches. At the start of the semester over 50% of the students mention in written reflections that they use Rolodex equation matching, i.e. they solve problems by searching for equations that have the same variables as the knowns and unknowns. We then describe the extent to which students' beliefs about physics problem-solving change due to their experience throughout a semester with context-rich, multifaceted problems. The frequency of strategies such as the Rolodex method reduces only slightly by the end of the semester. However, there is an increase in students describing more expansive strategies within their reflections. In particular there is a large increase in describing the use of diagrams, and thinking about concepts first. Hence the use of context-rich, multi-faceted problems positively impacts students' attitude towards problem-solving.


Cook Wiebe Carter - Science Education 2008

The influence of prior knowledge on viewing and interpreting graphics with macroscopic and molecular representations
Sci Ed 92:848–867, 2008

Michelle Cook, Eric N. Wiebe, Glenda Carter

Previous research has indicated that the use of multiple representations with macroscopic and molecular features can improve conceptual understanding; however, the influence of prior knowledge of the domain cannot be overlooked. Using eyetracking technology and sequential analysis, this study investigated how high school students n 54 with different levels of prior knowledge transitioned among the macroscopic and molecular representations of the selected cell transport graphics. The results indicated that high prior knowledge students transitioned more frequently between the molecular representations, whereas low prior knowledge students transitioned more frequently between the macroscopic representations. These findings suggest that students with high prior knowledge distributed their visual attention on conceptually relevant features, whereas low prior knowledge students focused on surface features. In addition, low prior knowledge students transitioned more frequently between macroscopic and molecular representations, suggesting that these students were experiencing more difficulty as they were coordinating the representations. Because these students were using surface features to create linkages between the representations, they were unable to understand the underlying themes. More research on the differences in the distribution of visual attention among learners can provide further insight as to the difficulties low prior knowledge students face when interpreting multiple representations.


Chiu - JLS 2008

Flowing Toward Correct Contributions During Group Problem Solving: A Statistical Discourse Analysis
Journal of the Learning Sciences, Volume 17, Issue 3 July 2008 , pages 415 - 463

Ming Ming Chiu

Groups that created more correct ideas (correct contributions or CCs) might be more likely to solve a problem, and students' recent actions (micro-time context) might aid CC creation. 80 high school students worked in groups of 4 on an algebra problem. Groups with higher mathematics grades or more CCs were more likely to solve the problem. Dynamic multilevel analysis statistically identified watersheds (breakpoints) that divided each group's conversation into distinct time periods with many CCs versus few CCs, and modeled the groups' 2,951 conversation turns. Wrong contributions, correct evaluations of one another's ideas, justifications, and polite disagreements increased the likelihood of a CC. In contrast, questions, rude disagreements, and agreements reduced it. Justifications had the largest effects, whereas the effects of correct evaluations lasted 3 speaker turns. Some effects differed across groups or time periods. In groups that solved the problem, justifications were more likely to yield CCs, and questions were more likely to elicit explanations. Meanwhile, the effects of agreements and correct evaluations on CCs differed across time periods. Applied to practice, teachers can encourage students to evaluate others' ideas carefully and politely, express and justify their own ideas, and explain their answers to group members' questions.

Jurow Hall Ma - JLS 2008

Expanding the Disciplinary Expertise of a Middle School Mathematics Classroom: Re-Contextualizing Student Models in Conversations With Visiting Specialists
Journal of the Learning Sciences, Volume 17, Issue 3 July 2008 , pages 338 - 380

A. Susan Jurow; Rogers Hall; Jasmine Y. Ma

This article examines how conversations during design reviews in which 8th-grade mathematics students shared population models with visiting specialists expanded the disciplinary expertise of the classroom. Re-contextualizing is a conversational exchange that visiting specialists initiated to invite groups to consider their models in novel contexts. Analysis of 14 design reviews in 2 classrooms showed that re-contextualizing resulted in both the elaboration of ideas students already understood and new contributions to students' understandings of mathematical aspects of population modeling. This article presents case studies of 2 groups that differed in terms of their interest in the curricular task and the level of conceptual integrity of their population models. Despite these differences, the re-contextualizing exchanges that emerged in their design reviews led to new insights for both groups and provided them with opportunities to try on ways of thinking and acting like population biologists.

Gal Lin Ying - IJSME 2008

Listen To The Silence: The Left-Behind Phenomenon As Seen Through Classroom Videos And Teachers’ Reflections

International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education

Hagar Gal, Fou-Lai Lin and Jia-Ming Ying

This study uses classroom videotapes to examine the phenomenon of students who are left behind during whole-class teaching. Zooming in via these videos enabled us to analyze these classroom situations by means of a compact, multi-perspective set of theories – van Hiele theory, conceptualization, and visual perception. The analysis provided a picture of the classroom interaction in which the sound of silence of those students who might not share understanding during the class discourse is ignored. Based on a sample of Taiwanese junior high school geometry classes, the study demonstrated how investigating situations of silence uncovered the possibility of teachers’ unawareness of student difficulties or their unsuccessful efforts to cope with them. Teachers’ post-lesson interviews and questionnaires shed additional light on the perspective of left-behind students. Implications of this method for pre- and in-service teachers’ programs are briefly discussed, and some recommendations for change are proposed.

Sakamoto Jones Love - Memory and Cognition 2008

Putting the psychology back into psychological models: Mechanistic versus rational approaches
Memory & Cognition, Volume 36, Number 6, September 2008 , pp. 1057-1065(9)

Yasuaki Sakamoto, Matt Jones, Bradley C. Love

Two basic approaches to explaining the nature of the mind are the rational and the mechanistic approaches. Rational analyses attempt to characterize the environment and the behavioral outcomes that humans seek to optimize, whereas mechanistic models attempt to simulate human behavior using processes and representations analogous to those used by humans. We compared these approaches with regard to their accounts of how humans learn the variability of categories. The mechanistic model departs in subtle ways from rational principles. In particular, the mechanistic model incrementally updates its estimates of category means and variances through error-driven learning, based on discrepancies between new category members and the current representation of each category. The model yields a prediction, which we verify, regarding the effects of order manipulations that the rational approach does not anticipate. Although both rational and mechanistic models can successfully postdict known findings, we suggest that psychological advances are driven primarily by consideration of process and representation and that rational accounts trail these breakthroughs.

Glautier - Memory and Cognition 2008

Recency and primacy in causal judgments: Effects of probe question and context switch on latent inhibition and extinction
Memory & Cognition, Volume 36, Number 6, September 2008 , pp. 1087-1093(7)

Steven Glautier

Traditional associative models assume that associative weights are updated on a trial-by-trial basis. As a result, it is usually expected that responses based on these weights will tend to reflect the most recently presented contingencies. However, a number of studies of human causal judgments have shown primacy effects, wherein judgments obtained at the end of a series of trials are more strongly influenced by a contingency that was in force early in the sequence than by a contingency that was in force later in the sequence. The experiments described in this article replicated other work showing that requesting causal judgments during a sequence can reverse primacy and produce strong recency effects. Evidence was also obtained to suggest that primacy effects are produced by an interaction between latent inhibition and extinction processes and that requesting a judgment affects both of these processes.


Schunk - Ed Psych Review 2008

Metacognition, Self-Regulation, and Self-Regulated Learning: Research Recommendations
Educational Psychology Review

Dale H. Schunk

Much research has been conducted on metacognition, self-regulation, and self-regulated learning, but the articles in this special issue make it clear that we still have many unanswered questions. Recommendations for research include providing clear definitions of processes, identifying relevant theories, ensuring that assessments clearly reflect processes, linking processes with academic outcomes, conducting more educational developmental research, and tying processes firmly with instructional methods. Collectively, these recommendations will enhance our understanding of metacognition, self-regulation, and self-regulated learning and will lead to solid implications for educational policy and practice.

McNeill - Science Education 2008

Teachers' use of curriculum to support students in writing scientific arguments to explain phenomena

Sci Ed 1-36, 2008

Katherine L. McNeill

The role of the teacher is essential for students' successful engagement in scientific inquiry practices. This study focuses on teachers' use of an 8-week chemistry curriculum that explicitly supports students in one particular inquiry practice, the construction of scientific arguments to explain phenomena in which students justify their claims using evidence and reasoning. Participants included 6 teachers and 568 students. Videotapes, teacher questionnaires, and student pre- and posttests were analyzed to develop case studies that characterized the support the teachers provided their students for scientific argumentation and subsequent student learning. Patterns from the case studies suggest that one particular instructional practice, the way teachers defined scientific argumentation, characterized teachers' support and influenced the other practices they used in their classrooms. In some cases, the teachers' definitions of scientific argumentation did not align with the intended learning goal in the curriculum materials. These teachers' greater simplification of this complex inquiry practice resulted in decreased learning gains in terms of students' ability to write scientific arguments to explain phenomena using appropriate evidence and reasoning. Educative curriculum materials can have a positive impact on teachers' classroom support for scientific argumentation, but how the teachers use these materials influences student learning.

Othman Treagust Chandrasegaran - IJSE 2008

An Investigation into the Relationship between Students' Conceptions of the Particulate Nature of Matter and their Understanding of Chemical Bonding
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 30, Issue 11 September 2008 , pages 1531 - 1550

Jazilah Othman; David F. Treagust; A. L. Chandrasegaran

A thorough understanding of chemical bonding requires familiarity with the particulate nature of matter. In this study, a two-tier multiple-choice diagnostic instrument consisting of ten items (five items involving each of the two concepts) was developed to assess students' understanding of the particulate nature of matter and chemical bonding so as to identify possible associations between students' understandings of the two concepts. The instrument was administered to 260 Grades 9 and 10 students (15-16 years old) from a secondary school in Singapore. Analysis of students' responses revealed several alternative conceptions about the two concepts. In addition, analysis of six pairs of items suggested that students' limited understanding of the particulate nature of matter influenced their understanding of chemical bonding. The findings provide useful information for challenging students' alternative conceptions about the particulate nature of matter during classroom instruction in order to enable them to achieve better understanding of chemical bonding.

Fazio Guastella Sperandeo-Mineo Tarantino - IJSE 2008

Modelling Mechanical Wave Propagation: Guidelines and experimentation of a teaching-learning sequence
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 30, Issue 11 September 2008 , pages 1491 - 1530

Claudio Fazio; Ivan Guastella; Rosa Maria Sperandeo-Mineo; Giovanni Tarantino

The present paper reports the design process and the experimentation of a teaching-learning sequence about the concept of mechanical wave propagation and the role played by media where waves are propagating. The sequence focuses on the central issue of the relationships between observable phenomena, like macroscopic behaviours of waves, and their interpretation and/or explanation in terms of corpuscular characteristics of media. We describe the design process with respect to the general framework of the Educational Reconstruction Model and the pedagogical tools used. Results of a teaching/learning experiment, involving a sample of 75 high school students, are also reported. Data analysis is mainly based on qualitative research methods. The main focus is on students' representations of phenomena and on the cognitive strategies put in action in order to modify or support their descriptive and interpretative mental models. Results are discussed by pointing out the efficacy of strategies focusing on the process of constructing predictive conceptual models and by identifying the concept of 'level of analysis' as different ways to look at the same phenomenon