Enghag Gustafsson Jonsson - IJSME 2008

Talking Physics during Small-Group Work with Context-Rich Problems - Analysed from an Ownership Perspective
International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education online first publication

Margareta Enghag, Peter Gustafsson and Gunnar Jonsson

This study provides analyses of the conversations when university students work in small groups solving context-rich physics problems. We constructed context-rich, open-ended physics problems related to everyday life situations that lack some information required to solve and complete the tasks. The students’ ownership of learning, their actions of choice and control, was analyzed in two dimensions: group and individual. Conversation analyses and flowcharts of the conversation were constructed from the complete transcripts of three groups. The theoretical framework for student ownership of learning demonstrated that it was possible to show that even if students have group ownership of the task, the individual student ownership of learning is not self-evident. The study also demonstrates the methodological power and value of the flowchart to identify conversation patterns in the groups that were effective in the search for exploratory talks and individual questions. We discuss implications for teacher development to enhance group work.

Bonham - PRST-PER 2008

Reliability, compliance, and security in web-based course assessments
Phys. Rev. ST Physics Ed. Research 4, 010106

Scott Bonham

Pre- and postcourse assessment has become a very important tool for education research in physics and other areas. The web offers an attractive alternative to in-class paper administration, but concerns about web-based administration include reliability due to changes in medium, student compliance rates, and test security, both question leakage and utilization of web resources. An investigation was carried out in introductory astronomy courses comparing pre- and postcourse administration of assessments using the web and on paper. Overall no difference was seen in performance due to the medium. Compliance rates fluctuated greatly, and factors that seemed to produce higher rates are identified. Notably, email reminders increased compliance by 20%. Most of the 559 students complied with requests to not copy, print, or save questions nor use web resources; about 1% did copy some question text and around 2% frequently used other windows or applications while completing the assessment.


Li Ding Capraro Capraro - C&I 2008

Sources of Differences in Children's Understandings of Mathematical Equality: Comparative Analysis of Teacher Guides and Student Texts in China and the United States
Cognition and Instruction, Volume 26, Issue 2 April 2008 , pages 195 - 217

Xiaobao Li; Meixia Ding; Mary Margaret Capraro; Robert M. Capraro

This study reports findings from comparative samples of sixth-grade Chinese and U.S. students' interpretations of the equal sign. Ninety-eight percent of the Chinese sample correctly answered 4 items indicating conceptions of equality and provided conceptually accurate explanations. In contrast, only 28% of the U.S. sample performed at this level. We examine how teacher preparation materials, students' textbooks and teachers' guidebooks treat equality in each country. U.S. teacher preparation textbooks rarely interpreted the equal sign as equivalence. On the contrary, Chinese textbooks typically introduced the equal sign in a context of relationships and interpreted the sign as "balance," "sameness," or "equivalence" and only then embedded the sign with operations on numbers.

Radinsky - C&I 2008

Students' Roles in Group-Work with Visual Data: A Site of Science Learning
Cognition and Instruction, Volume 26, Issue 2 April 2008 , pages 145 - 194

Josh Radinsky

Learning science includes learning to argue with inscriptions: images used to symbolize information persuasively. This study examined sixth-graders learning to invest inscriptions with representational status, in a geographic information system (GIS)-based science investigation. Learning to reason with inscriptions was studied in emergent participation patterns in groups, operationalized as roles. Cross-case analyses compared developmental trajectories for two roles in each group: competitive challenger and quiet bystander. Role development mediated learning to reason with inscriptions, including (1) co-assembling "representational states" of data and (2) managing dialectical tensions of argumentation. Role was operationalized as a site of learning, intersecting individual and collective processes, rather than a mechanism of one impacting another. Distributed conceptions of practice support this approach for understanding how students learn to do science.

Speer - C&I 2008

Connecting Beliefs and Practices: A Fine-Grained Analysis of a College Mathematics Teacher's Collections of Beliefs and Their Relationship to His Instructional Practices
Cognition and Instruction, Volume 26, Issue 2 April 2008 , pages 218 - 267

Natasha M. Speer

Findings about mathematics teachers' beliefs typically involve broad characterizations of those beliefs that are compared with general descriptions of practices. Teacher development research suggests that changes happen effectively from attention to specific practices. Few investigations of beliefs and practices are done at this level of detail. Thus, little is known about how beliefs shape practices at the very grain-size where development appears to happen most productively. This study focused on fine-grained details of beliefs, practices, and connections between them. Findings indicate that particular units of analysis ("collections of beliefs") are useful for investigating connections between beliefs and specific practices. Certain collections were also found to be especially influential, including beliefs about evidence of student understanding and about how learning happens.


Otero Nathan - JRST 2008

Preservice elementary teachers' views of their students' prior knowledge of science
J Res Sci Teach 45: 497-523, 2008

Valerie K. Otero, Mitchell J. Nathan

Pre-service teachers face many challenges as they learn to teach in ways that are different from their own educational experiences. Pre-service teachers often enter teacher education courses with pre-conceptions about teaching and learning that may or may not be consistent with contemporary learning theory. To build on preservice teachers' prior knowledge, we need to identify the types of views they have when entering teacher education courses and the views they develop throughout these courses. The study reported here focuses specifically on preservice teachers' views of their own students' prior knowledge and the implications these views have on their understanding of the formative assessment process. Sixty-one preservice teachers were studied from three sections of a science methods course. Results indicate that preservice teachers exhibited a limited number of views about students' prior knowledge. These views tended to privilege either academic or experience-based concepts for different aspects of formative assessment, in contrast to contemporary perspectives on teaching for understanding. Rather than considering these views as misconceptions, it is argued that it is more useful to consider them as resources for further development of a more flexible concept of formative assessment. Four common views are discussed in detail and applied to science teacher education.

Khishfe - JRST 2008

The development of seventh graders' views of nature of science
J Res Sci Teach 45: 470-496, 2008

Rola Khishfe

This study investigated the development in students' nature of science (NOS) views in the context of an explicit inquiry-oriented instructional approach. Participants were 18 seventh-grade students who were taught by a teacher with appropriateknowledge about NOS. The intervention spanned about 3 months. During this time, students were engaged in three inquiry-oriented activities that were followed by reflective discussions of NOS. The study emphasized the tentative, empirical, inferential, and creative aspects of NOS. An open-ended questionnaire, in conjunction with semi-structured interviews, was used to assess students' views before, during, and after the intervention. Before instruction, the majority of students held naïve views of the four NOS aspects. During instruction, the students acquired more informed and intermediary views of the NOS aspects. By the end of the intervention, the students' views of the NOS aspects had developed further still into informed and intermediary. These findings suggest a developmental model in which students' views develop along a continuum during which they pass through intermediary views to reach more informed views. Implications for teaching and learning of NOS are discussed.

Papadouris Constantinou Kyratsi - JRST 2008

Students' use of the energy model to account for changes in physical systems
J Res Sci Teach 45: 444-469, 2008

Nicos Papadouris, Constantinos P. Constantinou, Theodora Kyratsi

The aim of this study is to explore the ways in which students, aged 11-14 years, account for certain changes in physical systems and the extent to which they draw on an energy model as a common framework for explaining changes observed in diverse systems. Data were combined from two sources: interviews with 20 individuals and an open-ended questionnaire that was administered to 240 students (121 upper elementary school students and 119 middle school students). We observed a wealth of approaches ranging from accounts of energy transfer and transformation to responses identifying specific objects or processes as the cause of changes. The findings also provide evidence that students do not seem to appreciate the transphenomenological and unifying nature of energy. Students' thinking was influenced by various conceptual difficulties that are compounded by traditional science teaching; for instance, students tended to confuse energy with force or electric current. In addition, the comparison between the responses from middle school students and those of elementary school students demonstrates that science teaching and maturation appeared to have a negligible influence on whether students had constructed a coherent energy model, which they could use consistently to account for changes in certain physical systems.


IJSE special issue: Evidence-Based Professional Development for Science Teachers

International Journal of Science Education, Volume 30 Issue 5 2008

Evidence-Based Professional Development for Science Teachers: Collaboration and evaluation in two countries

Sometimes, it's important to highlight a whole issue in one. Please follow the links for more information.

Authors: Shirley Simon; Christine Harrison
DOI: 10.1080/09500690701875787

Evidence-Based Professional Development of Science Teachers in Two Countries
577 – 591
Authors: Christine Harrison; Avi Hofstein; Bat-Sheva Eylon; Shirley Simon
DOI: 10.1080/09500690701854832

Evidence for Teachers' Change While Participating in a Continuous Professional Development Programme and Implementing the Inquiry Approach in the Chemistry Laboratory
593 – 617
Authors: Dorit Taitelbaum; Rachel Mamlok-Naaman; Miriam Carmeli; Avi Hofstein
DOI: 10.1080/09500690701854840

An Evidence-Based Continuous Professional Development Programme on Knowledge Integration in Physics: A study of teachers' collective discourse
619 – 641
Authors: Bat-Sheva Eylon; Hana Berger; Esther Bagno
DOI: 10.1080/09500690701854857

Learning about Teachers' Accomplishment in 'Learning Skills for Science' Practice: The use of portfolios in an evidence-based continuous professional development programme
643 – 667
Authors: Zahava Scherz; Liora Bialer; Bat-Sheva Eylon
DOI: 10.1080/09500690701854865

Professional Learning Portfolios for Argumentation in School Science
669 – 688
Authors: Shirley Simon; Susan Johnson
DOI: 10.1080/09500690701854873

Factors Influencing the Transformation of New Teaching Approaches from a Programme of Professional Development to the Classroom
689 – 709
Authors: Rod Watson; Alex Manning
DOI: 10.1080/09500690701854881

Evaluation of Professional Development: Deploying a process-focused model
711 – 725
Authors: Pam Hanley; Felix Maringe; Mary Ratcliffe
DOI: 10.1080/09500690701854899

Singh - PRST-PER 2008

Assessing student expertise in introductory physics with isomorphic problems. I. Performance on nonintuitive problem pair from introductory physics
Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 4, 010104 (2008)

Chandralekha Singh

Investigations related to expertise in problem solving and ability to transfer learning from one context to another are important for developing strategies to help students perform more expertlike tasks. Here we analyze written responses to a pair of nonintuitive isomorphic problems given to introductory physics students and discussions with a subset of students about them. Students were asked to explain their reasoning for their written responses. We call the paired problems isomorphic because they require the same physics principle to solve them. However, the initial conditions are different, and the frictional force is responsible for increasing the linear speed of an object in one of the problems while it is responsible for decreasing the linear speed in the other problem. We categorize student responses and evaluate student performance within the context of their evolving expertise. We compare and contrast the patterns of student categorization for the two isomorphic problems. We discuss why certain incorrect responses were better than others and shed light on the evolution of students’ expertise. We compare the performance of students who worked on both isomorphic problems with those who worked only on one of the problems to understand whether students recognized their underlying similarity and whether isomorphic pairs gave students additional insight into solving each problem.

©2008 The American Physical Society
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.4.010104
PACS: 01.40.Fk, 01.40.Ha, 01.50.Kw

Singh - PRST-PER 2008

Assessing student expertise in introductory physics with isomorphic problems. II. Effect of some potential factors on problem solving and transfer
Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 4, 010105 (2008)

Chandralekha Singh

In this paper, we explore the use of isomorphic problem pairs (IPPs) to assess introductory physics students’ ability to solve and successfully transfer problem-solving knowledge from one context to another in mechanics. We call the paired problems “isomorphic” because they require the same physics principle to solve them. We analyze written responses and individual discussions for a range of isomorphic problems. We examine potential factors that may help or hinder transfer of problem-solving skills from one problem in a pair to the other. For some paired isomorphic problems, one context often turned out to be easier for students in that it was more often correctly solved than the other. When quantitative and conceptual questions were paired and given back to back, students who answered both questions in the IPP often performed better on the conceptual questions than those who answered the corresponding conceptual questions only. Although students often took advantage of the quantitative counterpart to answer a conceptual question of an IPP correctly, when only given the conceptual question, students seldom tried to convert it into a quantitative question, solve it, and then reason about the solution conceptually. Even in individual interviews when students who were given only conceptual questions had difficulty and the interviewer explicitly encouraged them to convert the conceptual question into the corresponding quantitative problem by choosing appropriate variables, a majority of students were reluctant and preferred to guess the answer to the conceptual question based upon their gut feeling. Misconceptions associated with friction in some problems were so robust that pairing them with isomorphic problems not involving friction did not help students discern their underlying similarities. Alternatively, from the knowledge-in-pieces perspective, the activation of the knowledge resource related to friction was so strongly and automatically triggered by the context, which is outside the conscious control of the student, that students did not look for analogies with paired problems or other aids that may be present.

©2008 The American Physical Society
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.4.010105
PACS: 01.40.Di, 01.50.−i