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?