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 We extend unpublished work by Steven Kanim on "escalator diagrams" which show changes in student responses from correct to incorrect (and vice versa) while representing pre- and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.