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Fall '09 Abstracts

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Monday, December 7th, 2009

Dan Levin, American University

Teaching biology for core ideas

I’m presenting a narrative of my own teaching, in collaboration with Paul Hutchison and Anita Sanyal, and showing some of the student work from our class. This summer we taught a biology class to elementary teachers, with the intention of teaching biology for core conceptual content, practices of reasoning, and epistemological sense-making. Our work was guided by the discovery teaching approach that members of PERG have pursued in understanding their own teaching and their students' learning (e.g., Hammer, 1997; Hammer & Elby 2003; Hutchison, 2008). I present examples of student work and a short snippet of student conversation, to tell the story of the assumptions we made, the questions we asked, and the things we learned about biology teaching and learning. I am in the early stages of thinking about a paper, and I’m looking for some feedback on the most productive avenues to pursue.




Monday, November 23, 2009 

Jen Richards

Exploring the relationship between teachers’ views of students and their practices of attending to the substance of student thinking

Numerous studies have linked teachers' expectations for their students with their teaching practices and ultimately their students' performances (Auwarter & Aruguete, 2008; Bol & Berry, 2005; Rubie-Davies, Hattie, & Hamilton, 2006; Rosenthal & Jacobson, 2003; Seidel, 2006).  Thus, in preparation for a poster that I will be presenting at ASTE in January 2010, I will present data from three teacher-student pairs -- Maria and Izzie, Maria and Lindsay, and Karla and Michael -- to elucidate the nature of a more specific relationship between teachers' views of particular students and their practices of attending to the substance of those students' ideas.  I conclude that while there is evidence of the existence of this relationship, the nature of this relationship is variable and does not necessarily align with findings in the literature.





Monday, October 26, 2009

Jen Richards

 ABSTRACT: I will present a video clip of a 6th-grade science teacher, Karla, as she teaches a lesson on the 5 kingdoms of life.  (Yes, 5 kingdoms -- that is part of the intrigue!)  Specifically, I will focus on how she describes Kingdom Monera, which was split into Kingdoms Eubacteria and Archaebacteria following a PNAS publication in 1977  (Woese et al.).  Bacteria and Archaea are still considered to be 2 of the domains in the 3-domain system in current scientific practice, but not in the curriculum Karla must follow.


The predominant question that I would like for us to consider as we watch the clip is what epistemological messages may students and/or teachers be receiving about science?





Monday, October 12, 2009  1:15pm – 2:45pm

Luke Conlin

Conflict in scientific inquiry discussions

Productive scientific inquiry in physics class should include students evaluating their own ideas as well as those of their classmates in order to support or challenge them.  The challenging of each others’ ideas can be a difficult task for a group to manage for many reasons, not the least of which being the negative emotions associated with having an idea rejected.  How do groups manage this complex social milieu?  Which sorts of conflict, if any, can lead to productive inquiry discussions?  In previous work we have observed student groups' behavioral and discursive transitions into productive inquiry discussions (Conlin, Gupta, Scherr, Hammer 2007; for a more in-depth analysis see Scherr & Hammer 2009).  We suggested that such transitions were often precipitated by conflicts of various sorts, including conflicts in mechanistic explanations and in epistemological stances.  In this presentation, I will be analyzing more closely what is meant by "conflict" as well as discussing the ways in which it can be productive and the circumstances under which that can happen.  I will present video data from a physics tutorial along with a pre-preliminary analysis of the conflicts that arise and how they affect the group dynamics.





Monday, September 28, 2009

Tiffany Sikorski

Investigating the role of inconsistencies during students' self-designed experiments

 As part of a project on developing learning progressions for scientific inquiry, I

am currently exploring ways to identify and describe students' responses to inconsistencies. In

this talk, I will present video of group of 4th grade students carrying out a series of self-designed

experiments involving puddle evaporation. The students make some surprising observations, for

example, that cold water evaporates faster than warm water, and that twice as much water does

not take twice as long to evaporate. I'll seek your help in making the case that the students'

responses to these findings are qualitatively different.





September 14, 2009

Brian Danielak, Ayush Gupta, Andy Elby

The Role of Emotion and Affect in Engineers' Mathematical SenseMaking

 Successful engineers use mathematics in ways that blend its formal structure with causal and functional relations in the real world. They carry out central tasks such as modeling by moving freely between and among different representations--mathematically symbolic, graphical, conceptually qualitative--in a process we call "mathematical sensemaking." Unfortunately, many engineering students have difficulty sense-making. Our work explores the factors that give Electrical Engineering (EE) students trouble, and the instructional modifications we can make to support students' sensemaking.

     In this work-in-progress talk we'll share video of "Wanda," an EE student. We'll present her reactions to interview prompts involving sensemaking, conceptual reasoning, and distinctions between the real world and the "ideal world" of engineering instruction. We believe her strong reactions to those prompts suggest issues of emotion, identity, and affect are bound up in students' difficulties in sensemaking. We view our talk as coparticipatory: we seek your help analyzing raw data to examine how Wanda's emotions affect and are affected by her tendency to sensemake.

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