Bulletin of the American Physical Society
APS April Meeting 2022
Volume 67, Number 6
Saturday–Tuesday, April 9–12, 2022; New York
Session T06: Improving Student Reasoning in Physics: What the research saysEducation Invited Live Streamed Undergrad Friendly
Sponsoring Units: GPER FED
Chair: Mila Kryjevskaia, North Dakota State University
Room: Marquis A-B
Monday, April 11, 2022
3:45PM - 4:21PM
T06.00001: Student reasoning in solving non-traditional physics problems
Invited Speaker: Lin Ding
Scientific reasoning is a process of using mental rules, plans and strategies to devise causal explanations about science phenomena based on given information. In education, research on this topic has taken on both the discipline-general and discipline-specific perspectives. Applying both approaches, I conducted large-scale surveys across different grade levels to detect the general development trend of learners' reasoning skills, as well as designed non-traditional physics problems to study the ways that students reason about disciplinary core concepts. In this talk, I introduce two types of non-traditional physics problems, namely synthesis problems and design tasks. The former requires students to synthesize multiple concepts from different textbook chapters to create a meaningful solution. The latter tasks students with a design undertaking, such as producing a rolled-up capacitor. Findings of the work reveal distinctive reasoning patterns of students handling tasks of different characteristics, such as sequential synthesis (involving multiple, chronologically occurring phenomena) and simultaneous synthesis (involving multiple, concurrent phenomena). Results also highlight the impact of student's epistemic views toward physics learning on their reasoning outcomes. I discuss the findings and implications for classroom instruction.
Monday, April 11, 2022
4:21PM - 4:57PM
T06.00002: Leveraging dual-process theories of reasoning to understand and support student reasoning
Invited Speaker: John C Speirs
Introductory physics courses aim to improve students' problem-solving and reasoning skills. To aid in attaining this goal, researchers in physics education have studied students' qualitative inferential reasoning to develop and refine theoretical frameworks for how students reason through qualitative physics problems. Recently, researchers have begun to apply dual-process theories of reasoning (DPToR), from cognitive science and psychology, to support mechanistic predictions of student reasoning in physics. This talk will briefly explore the history of frameworks for student qualitative inferential reasoning in PER and how DPToR is impacting the current work of understanding how our students reason. Then, the [JS1] talk will discuss our work leveraging DPToR to improve the teaching and learning of physics. In specific, I will report on recent studies employing the reasoning chain construction task -- in which students respond to a physics question by drawing from a list of reasoning elements (all of which are true) in order to assemble a chain of reasoning that leads to a conclusion – to investigate reasoning phenomenon related to DPToR.
Monday, April 11, 2022
4:57PM - 5:33PM
T06.00003: Teaching and assessing conceptual/mathematical coherence in introductory physics problem solving
Invited Speaker: Eric Kuo
Research on physics problem solving has demonstrated the importance of explicitly teaching students to connect conceptual and mathematical reasoning. For instance, the most well-studied class of effective problem-solving instruction teaches students to begin their problem-solving process with a conceptual analysis that drives subsequent mathematical analysis. Current research in physics education is continuing to build out more sophisticated models of conceptual/mathematical coherence in physics teaching and learning. I will discuss other ways in which conceptual/mathematical coherence (or the lack thereof) connects to known issues in physics education and how a focus on coherence can drive the search for effective problem-solving instruction and assessment principles. I will share the results of a teaching comparison demonstrating how an instructional approach emphasizing conceptual/mathematical coherence can produce positive outcomes in (i) student reasoning – including detecting errors, finding conceptual insights, and spontaneously using calculations on qualitative questions – and (ii) student beliefs about problem solving. Finally, I will discuss the open questions raised by these results and the current directions of our research program.
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