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.