Muller Sharma Reimann - JCAL 2008

Saying the wrong thing: improving learning with multimedia by including misconceptions
Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (early online publicaiton)
D.A. Muller, J. Bewes, M.D. Sharma & P. Reimann
Email: muller@physics.usyd.edu.au

In this study, 364 first-year physics students were randomly assigned to one of four online multimedia treatments on Newton's First and Second Laws of Motion: (1) the ‘Exposition’, a concise lecture-style presentation; (2) the ‘Extended Exposition’, the Exposition with additional interesting information; (3) the ‘Refutation’, the Exposition with common misconceptions explicitly stated and refuted; or (4) the ‘Dialogue’, a student–tutor discussion of the same material as in the Refutation. Students were tested using questions from mechanics conceptual inventories before and after watching the multimedia treatments. Results show the Refutation and Dialogue produced the greatest learning gains, with effect sizes of 0.79 and 0.83, respectively, compared with the Exposition. Students with low prior knowledge benefited most, however high prior knowledge learners were not disadvantaged by the misconception-based approach. The findings suggest that online multimedia can be greatly improved, promoting conceptual change in students with all levels of experience, by including a discussion of misconceptions.


Muller Sharma Eklund Reimann - Instructional Science 2007

Conceptual change through vicarious learning in an authentic physics setting
Instructional Science 35(6), p. 519-533

Derek A. Muller, Manjula D. Sharma, John Eklund, and Peter Reimann
Email: muller@physics.usyd.edu.au

Recent research on principles of best practice for designing effective multimedia instruction has rarely taken into account students’ alternative conceptions, which are known to strongly influence learning. The goal of this study was to determine how well students of quantum mechanics could learn ‘vicariously’ by watching a student-tutor dialogue based on alternative conceptions. Two video treatments were created to summarize key aspects of quantum tunneling, a fundamental quantum mechanical phenomenon. One video depicted a student-tutor dialogue, incorporating many of the common alternative conceptions on the topic, and resolving inconsistencies in reasoning through discussion. The other presented the same correct physics material in an expository style without alternative conceptions. Second year physics students were randomly assigned to one of the two treatments and were tested before and after watching the video during a lecture. Results show a statistically significant (p < .01) advantage for the learners in the dialogue treatment (d = 0.71). Follow-up interviews of students yielded insight into the affective and cognitive benefits of the dialogue video.

DOI: 10.1007/s11251-007-9017-6


Scherr - Phys Rev 2008

Gesture analysis for physics education researchers
Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research

Rachel E. Scherr

Systematic observations of student gestures can not only fill in gaps in students’ verbal expressions, but can also offer valuable information about student ideas, including their source, their novelty to the speaker, and their construction in real time. This paper provides a review of the research in gesture analysis that is most relevant to physics education researchers and illustrates gesture analysis for the purpose of better understanding student thinking about physics.

©2008 The American Physical Society

URL: http://link.aps.org/abstract/PRSTPER/v4/e010101
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.4.010101
PACS: 01.40.Fk

Russ Scherr Hammer Mikeska - Science Education 2008

Recognizing mechanistic reasoning in student scientific inquiry: A framework for discourse analysis developed from philosophy of science
Science Education 1-28,
Rosemary S. Russ, Rachel E. Scherr, David Hammer, Jamie Mikeska
email: Rosemary S. Russ (r-russ@northwestern.edu)

National Science Foundation; Grant Number: ESI-9986846, REC-0440113

Science education reform has long focused on assessing student inquiry, and there has been progress in developing tools specifically with respect to experimentation and argumentation. We suggest the need for attention to another aspect of inquiry, namely mechanistic reasoning. Scientific inquiry focuses largely on understanding causal mechanisms that underlie natural phenomena. We have adapted an account of mechanism from philosophy of science studies in professional science [Machamer, P., Darden, D., & Craver, C. F., (2000). Thinking about mechanisms. Philosophy of Science, 67, 1-25] to develop a framework for discourse analysis that aids in identifying and analyzing students' mechanistic reasoning. We analyze a discussion among first-grade students about falling objects (1) to illustrate the generativity of the framework, (2) to demonstrate that mechanistic reasoning is abundantly present even in these young students, and (3) to show that mechanistic reasoning is episodic in their discourse. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals,

DOI: 10.1002/sce.20264


A bit of an administrative update

Stepping away, briefly, from the posting of individual papers, I have added a set of links to journals and sites to the Linked List. To find it, scroll down essentially to the bottom of this page - it's on the right side. New additions (beyond the journals I peruse for this list) are links to PER-CENTRAL and the Reviews in Physics Education Research. A previous and at the time unannounced addition was a search function (on both posts and tags, case sensitive). The tag list has gone a bit out of control, but so be it. Enough blathering.

Thanks, by the way, for all those who visit this site. I hope that readers will, at some point, begin commenting on the papers that are found here (a public forum on the value of the individual papers), but that has barely started (thanks, Dave, for starting it!).

For more on how this blog is set up (at least my goals when I started it), click here.


Henderson - AJP 2008

Promoting instructional change in new faculty: An evaluation of the physics and astronomy new faculty workshop

Charles Henderson
Western Michigan University, 1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49008
(Received 28 June 2007; accepted 9 November 2007)

An important finding of physics and astronomy education research (PAER) is that traditional, transmission-based instructional approaches are not effective in promoting meaningful student learning. Instead, PAER research suggests that physics and astronomy should be taught using more interactive instructional methods. These ways of teaching require significant changes in the way faculty think about teaching and learning and corresponding changes in their teaching behavior. Although the research base and corresponding pedagogies and strategies are well documented and widely available, widespread changes in physics and astronomy teaching at the college level has yet to occur. The Workshop for New Physics and Astronomy Faculty has been working to address this problem since 1996. This workshop, which is jointly administered by the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Astronomical Society, and the American Physical Society, has attracted approximately 25% of all new physics and astronomy faculty each year to a four-day workshop designed to introduce new faculty to PAER-based instructional ideas and materials. This paper describes the impact of the Workshop as measured by surveys of Workshop participants and physics and astronomy department chairs. The results indicate that the Workshop is successful in meeting its goals and might be significantly contributing to the spread and acceptance of PAER-based instructional ideas and materials.

©2008 American Association of Physics Teachers

PACS: 01.40.G-

Reay Li Bao - AJP 2008

Testing a new voting machine question methodology

N. W. Reay, Pengfei Li, and Lei Bao
Department of Physics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210
(Received 15 April 2007; accepted 9 November 2007)

A new question methodology has been developed and used with voting machines in large physics lecture classrooms. The methodology was tested by comparing student performance in voting machine and non-voting machine lecture sections during three consecutive electricity and magnetism quarters of introductory calculus-based physics. Data from The Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism and common examination questions indicates that students using voting machines achieved a significant gain in conceptual learning, and that voting machines reduced the gap between male and female student performances on tests. Surveys indicated that students were positive about the use of voting machines and believed that they helped them learn. The surveys also suggested that grading voting machines responses and/or overusing voting machines may lower student enthusiasm.

©2008 American Association of Physics Teachers

PACS: 01.40.G-, 01.50.ht

Boudreaux Shaffer Heron McDermott - AJP 2008

Student understanding of control of variables: Deciding whether or not a variable influences the behavior of a system
Andrew Boudreaux
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington 98225
Peter S. Shaffer, Paula R. L. Heron, and Lillian C. McDermott
Department of Physics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195
(Received 15 June 2007; accepted 13 October 2007)

The ability of adult students to reason on the basis of the control of variables was the subject of an extended investigation. This paper describes the part of the study that focused on the reasoning required to decide whether or not a given variable influences the behavior of a system. The participants were undergraduates taking introductory Physics and K–8 teachers studying physics and physical science in inservice institutes and workshops. Although most of the students recognized the need to control variables, many had significant difficulty with the underlying reasoning. The results indicate serious shortcomings in the preparation of future scientists and in the education of a scientifically literate citizenry. There are also strong implications for the professional development of teachers, many of whom are expected to teach control of variables to young students.

©2008 American Association of Physics Teachers

PACS: 01.40.Fk


Lemos - arxiv.org 2008

Failure of intuition in elementary rigid body dynamics
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 17:52:39 GMT

Nivaldo A. Lemos
Four pages; to appear in European Journal of Physics

Suppose a projectile collides perpendicularly with a stationary rigid rod on a smooth horizontal table. We show that, contrary to what one naturally expects, it is not always the case that the rod acquires maximum angular velocity when struck at an extremity. The treatment is intended for first year university students of Physics or Engineering, and could form the basis of a tutorial discussion of conservation laws in rigid body dynamics.

Note that this paper isn't really a research paper. But, it addresses an issue that Paula Heron talked about at the summer Foundations and Frontiers of Physics Education Research meeting, a piece of ongoing work at the University of Washington. So, going on that thread, it seemed relevant to post it here. - MCW.


Muller Sharma Reimann - Sci. Ed. 2008

Raising cognitive load with linear multimedia to promote conceptual change
Science Education 1-19, 2008

Derek A. Muller 1 *, Manjula D. Sharma 1, Peter Reimann 2
1 School of Physics, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia
2 Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia
email: Derek A. Muller (muller@physics.usyd.edu.au)
*Correspondence to Derek A. Muller, School of Physics, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia

Two disparate research programs have addressed the challenge of instructional multimedia design. One, based on cognitive load theory, has focused on ways of reducing unnecessary cognitive load during instruction to free up resources for learning. The other, based on constructivism, has centered on interactive multimedia, allowing students to build their own knowledge. Attempting to build on both bodies of literature, in this study, we investigated techniques that can raise the useful cognitive load engendered with linear multimedia. Participating online from home, students were pre- and posttested around a short multimedia intervention that explained Newton's first and second laws. In Experiment 1, students who watched a video dialogue involving alternative conceptions reported investing greater mental effort and achieved higher posttest scores than students who received a standard lecture-style presentation. In Experiment 2, two additional multimedia treatments were evaluated to assess the role of instructional time and the method of addressing alternative conceptions. In all, 272 students participated in the experiments. Interviews suggest that students adopted a more active approach to understanding the material if alternative conceptions were raised. In addition, students who watched the dialogue judged themselves to be similar to the student in the multimedia. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Received: 23 May 2007; Revised: 14 September 2007; Accepted: 15 September 2007

DOI: 10.1002/sce.20244

diSessa - C&I 2007

An Interactional Analysis of Clinical Interviewing
Cognition and Instruction
2007, Vol. 25, No. 4, Pages 523-565

Andrea A. diSessa
University of California, Berkeley, California

Clinical interviewing is viewed here as a social interactional pattern in order to examine the nature and limits of the technique as a means of scientific data acquisition. I defend the technique against criticisms that it is ecologically suspect and prone to systematic biases, mainly due to influence of the interviewer on the interviewee or to unnatural and biasing interactional patterns. The Central Hypothesis of this work is that at least some forms of clinical interviewing are derivative of naturally occurring patterns of activity and interaction. As such, they do not warrant unnecessary a priori suspicion. More importantly, this view leads to avenues of empirical examination that allow determination and checking of the character of the clinical interaction, which bears directly on how and when data extracted in clinical contexts are scientifically valid. Data from an extensive corpus involving a single subject are used to illustrate and substantiate claims.


Ellis - C&I 2007

The Influence of Reasoning with Emergent Quantities on Students' Generalizations
Cognition and Instruction
2007, Vol. 25, No. 4, Pages 439-478

Amy B. Ellis
University of Wisconsin-Madison

This paper reports the mathematical generalizations of two groups of algebra students, one which focused primarily on quantitative relationships, and one which focused primarily on number patterns disconnected from quantities. Results indicate that instruction encouraging a focus on number patterns supported generalizations about patterns, procedures, and rules, while instruction encouraging a focus on quantities supported generalizations about relationships, connections between situations, and dynamic phenomena, such as the nature of constant speed. An examination of the similarities and differences in students' generalizations revealed that the type of quantitative reasoning in which students engaged ultimately proved more important in influencing their generalizing than a mere focus on quantities versus numbers. In order to develop powerful, global generalizations about relationships, students had to construct ratios as emergent quantities relating two initial quantities. The role of emergent-ratio quantities is discussed as it relates to pedagogical practices that can support students' abilities to correctly generalize.


SmithC - C&I 2007

Bootstrapping Processes in the Development of Students' Commonsense Matter Theories: Using Analogical Mappings, Thought Experiments, and Learning to Measure to Promote Conceptual Restructuring
Cognition and Instruction
2007, Vol. 25, No. 4, Pages 337-398

Carol L. Smith
University of Massachusetts at Boston

This study explores whether the development of students' understanding of matter as something that occupies space and has weight involves conceptual change and restructuring rather than only simple belief revision. Based on an analysis of how the concepts in students' initial matter theory (henceforth MT1) may differ from the concepts in the matter theory that is a target of middle school instruction (MT2), I propose ways that concepts in a given theory cohere with each other and identify the sources of the new ideas in MT2 and the learning processes by which those new ideas can be acquired. I test implications of these analyses by designing a curriculum unit that exploits these learning mechanisms, by using the curriculum with 4 classes of eighth-grade Earth Science students, and by assessing 42 students' thinking about matter, object size, and weight (via individual interviews and written tests) before and after the teaching unit. Consistent with the hypothesis of conceptual restructuring, the data not only show coherencies in students' thinking about matter, size, and weight before and after teaching, but also coordinated patterns of change. The implications for the design of science instruction are discussed.


Morris - C&I 2007

Factors Affecting Pre-Service Teachers' Evaluations of the Validity of Students' Mathematical Arguments in Classroom Contexts
Cognition and Instruction
2007, Vol. 25, No. 4, Pages 479-522

Anne K. Morris
University of Delaware

This study was designed to identify the types of understandings, skills, and beliefs that affect pre-service teachers' evaluations of students' mathematical arguments in classroom contexts. Thirty-four pre-service teachers read a transcript of a third grade lesson in which the students were expected to prove a generalization. To investigate whether pre-service teachers evaluate students' arguments in a consistent way across different classroom contexts, pre-service teachers' evaluations of the responses were examined in two experimental conditions. In the first condition, one student made a valid argument that proved why the generalization was true, and in the second condition, this student's response was omitted from the transcript. Findings included the following: 1) Pre-service teachers' evaluations of students' inductive arguments differed dramatically across conditions; 2) Pre-service teachers rarely used logical validity as a criterion for evaluating arguments; 3) Pre-service teachers exhibited a wide variety of conceptions about the relationships among mathematical proof, explaining why something is true in mathematics, and inductive arguments, and these conceptions affected their evaluations of students' arguments; 4) Many pre-service teachers were able to distinguish between student responses that did and did not explain why a generalization was true; and 5) Pre-service teachers used their own knowledge to fill in "holes" in students' arguments which led to inappropriate evaluations of students' arguments and understanding. Implications for teacher preparation programs are discussed.



Davis - Mathematical Thinking and Learning 2007

Real-World Contexts, Multiple Representations, Student-Invented Terminology, and Y-Intercept
Mathematical Thinking and Learning
2007, Vol. 9, No. 4, Pages 387-418

Jon D. Davis
Department of Mathematics, Western Michigan University

One classroom using two units from a Standards-based curriculum was the focus of a study designed to examine the effects of real-world contexts, delays in the introduction of formal mathematics terminology, and multiple function representations on student understanding. Students developed their own terminology for y-intercept, which was tightly connected to the meaningfulness and implicit/explicit temporality of the contexts that students investigated as part of their classroom activities. This terminology held great promise for promoting the concept of y-intercept within a multiple representation environment. However, the teacher's interpretation of different activities and his assumptions about the transparency of different representations, as well as students' past experiences left the student-generated terminology and the concept of y-intercept disconnected from one another. This resulted in student-generated terminology that had limited applicability, a fragile understanding of y-intercept within different representations, and for some students, interference between their invented terminology and the concept of y-intercept itself.


Sparaci - Phenomenology and Cog Sci 2008

Embodying gestures: The Social Orienting Model and the study of early gestures in autism
Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

Laura Sparaci
University of Siena, 53100 Siena, Italy

Autistic spectrum disorders impair the ability to interact socially. Detecting and understanding their onset is not only an empirical enterprise, but also a theoretical one, often linked to studies on intersubjectivity. Different theoretical perspectives have been elaborated in the past to account for the deficit. The main purpose of this paper is to reinforce and offer empirical grounding to a recent approach, termed Social Orienting Model, by presenting the main theoretical approaches to autism and contrasting them to this view, as well as considering its possible effect on empirical research, focusing on current literature analyzing gestures in children with autism.

Keywords Autism - Social Orienting Model - Gestures - Intersubjectivity - Embodiment

Received: 3 July 2007 Accepted: 30 November 2007 Published online: 28 December 2007

ISSN 1568-7759 (Print) 1572-8676 (Online)
DOI 10.1007/s11097-007-9084-9

Apedoe - Science Ed. 2008

Engaging students in inquiry: Tales from an undergraduate geology laboratory-based course
Sci Ed 1-33, 2007

Xornam S. Apedoe (xapedoe@pitt.edu)
Learning Research & Development Center, University of Pittsburgh, 3939 O'Hara St., Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA

This paper reports the synthesis of three case studies of students' engagement in inquiry-based learning activities in an upper-level undergraduate geology course. Details of how students engaged in scientific questions, gave priority to evidence, formulated explanations, evaluated explanations, and communicated and justified their findings are presented. Data for this study included classroom observations and fieldnotes of classroom practices, questionnaires, archival data (e.g., student work samples), and audiotapes and transcripts of interviews conducted with the student participants throughout the course. The findings suggest that although these students were able to successfully appropriate inquiry practices (e.g., giving priority to evidence), it was not without its challenges (e.g., perceived lack of guidance). A detailed discussion of the ways in which students were successful, and where they had challenges engaging in inquiry is presented, with the goal of helping direct practitioners and researchers to strategies whereby students' inquiry experiences can be improved.

© 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Received: 30 May 2007; Revised: 17 October 2007; Accepted: 21 October 2007

DOI: 10.1002/sce.20254

Linhares Brum - Cognitive Science 2007

Understanding Our Understanding of Strategic Scenarios: What Role Do Chunks Play?
Cognitive Science: A Multidisciplinary Journal
2007, Vol. 31, No. 6, Pages 989-1007

Alexandre Linhares and Paulo Brum
EBAPE/FGV, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

There is a crucial debate concerning the nature of chess chunks: One current possibility states that chunks are built by encoding particular combinations of pieces-on-squares (POSs), and that chunks are formed mostly by "close" pieces (in a "Euclidean" sense). A complementary hypothesis is that chunks are encoded by abstract, semantic information. This article extends recent experiments and shows that chess players are able to perceive strong similarity between very different positions if the pieces retain the same abstract roles in both of them. This casts doubt on the idea that POS information is the key information encoded in chess chunks, and this article proposes, instead, that the key encoding involves the abstract roles that pieces (and sets of pieces) play–a theoretical standpoint in line with the research program in semantics that places analogy at the core of cognition.


Henderson Dancy - AJP 2008

Physics faculty and educational researchers: Divergent expectations as barriers to the diffusion of innovations

Charles Henderson
Department of Physics and Mallinson Institute for Science Education, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008
Melissa H. Dancy
Department of Physics, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina 28223
(Received 11 April 2006; accepted 26 September 2007)

Physics Education Research (PER) practitioners have engaged in substantial curriculum development and dissemination work in recent years. Yet, it appears that this work has had minimal influence on the fundamental teaching practices of the typical physics faculty. To better understand this situation, interviews were conducted with five likely users of physics education research. All reported making changes in their instructional practices and all were influenced, to some extent, by educational research. Yet, none made full use of educational research and most had complaints about their interactions with educational researchers. In this paper we examine how these instructors used educational research in making instructional decisions and identify divergent expectations about how researchers and faculty can work together to improve student learning. Although different instructors emphasized different aspects of this discrepancy between expectations, we believe that they are all related to a single underlying issue: the typical dissemination model is to disseminate curricular innovations and have faculty adopt them with minimal changes, while faculty expect researchers to work with them to incorporate research-based knowledge and materials into their unique instructional situations. Implications and recommendations are discussed.

©2008 American Association of Physics Teachers

PACS: 01.40.Fk