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April 15 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Investigating and supporting student reasoning in physics:
The role of dual-process theories of reasoning


MacKenzie R. Stetzer
Department of Physics and Astronomy & Maine Center for Research in STEM Education University of Maine


For over 30 years, research-based materials developed by the physics education research community have helped transform introductory physics instruction.  Many of these materials focus on the development of student conceptual understanding and place considerable emphasis on qualitative inferential reasoning.  An emerging body of research, however, suggests that poor student performance on certain physics tasks – even after research-based instruction – may stem more from the nature of human reasoning itself than from specific conceptual difficulties.  Analysis of student reasoning patterns through the lens of dual-process theories of reasoning (DPToR) from cognitive science suggests that students may struggle to engage analytical processing productively when responding to physics questions containing salient distracting features.  As part of a multi-institutional effort to examine and support student reasoning in physics by leveraging DPToR, we have been developing novel methodologies to probe student reasoning more deeply (including, for example, reasoning chain construction tasks) and designing and testing DPToR-aligned interventions aimed at promoting productive and consistent reasoning.  In this talk, results from this ongoing work will be presented and implications for instruction and research-based curriculum development will be discussed.


April 15
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm


Phillips 265
120 East Cameron Avenue
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
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