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Spring '09

Page history last edited by Luke 11 years, 4 months ago

Spring 2009 Science Teaching Center Seminar


January 26:  Luke Conlin -- The Causal Semantics of Physics

February 9:  Open

February 23:  Andy Elby -- Does Mr. H have coherent, robust beliefs about how his students learn?

March 9:  Jason Yip -- Connected Chemistry

March 23:  Open

April 6:  Colleen Gillespie and Jen Richards --  Understanding How and When Novice Teachers Attend to Student Thinking

April 20:   TIffany-Rose Sikorski -- Situating coherence-seeking within a learning progression for scientific inquiry

May 4: Luke Conlin -- Fantasy, Play, and Humor in Scientific Inquiry

May 26: Leema Kuhn Berland


--> back to Fall '09 Seminar




Luke Conlin -- The Causal Semantics of Physics

January 26, 2009


Many physicists, philosophers, and educators hold the view that science is in large part about finding causal mechanisms.  Many educational researchers and practitioners therefore consider student beliefs that contrast with this stance to be epistemologically naive.  However, there is a significant portion of experts in these same fields who reject the notion that science is about finding causal mechanisms, often relying on a stance that physics is only about finding and using the right equations.  John Norton, for instance, has said that in order for causation to play a central role in physics it must place factual restrictions on our theories--but no such restrictions are forthcoming.  In this seminar, I will present an argument in support of the central role of causal mechanisms in physics, by showing how causal notions place factual restrictions on physics theorizing via the semantics of physics equations.   



Andy Elby -- Does Mr. H have coherent, robust beliefs about how his students learn?

February 23, 2009


Members of this group have argued that students' epistemologies - their views about the nature of knowledge and learning - do not take the form of globally coherent beliefs, but instead consist of locally coherent stances triggered and stabilized in large part by contextual factors (Hammer, Elby, Scherr, & Redish, 1995).  For instance, a college student named "Louis" approached his physics class as a matter of memorizing disconnected bits of knowledge, but approached his tutoring experiences as helping students build upon their own ideas to make sense of the material.  A professional teacher's full-time job, by contrast, is to facilitate students' learning.  Therefore, a professional teacher - perhaps unlike his students - might be expected to have fully formed, globally coherent beliefs about how their students learn.  And indeed, most research on teachers characterizes their epistemologies as consisting of beliefs.  In this talk, drawing on classroom video of a 9th grade physics class and on Matty Lau's interviews with the teacher, I argue as strongly as I can that the teacher has coherent, robust epistemological beliefs about his students' learning.  I then discuss whether this case study challenges or supports the modeling of teachers' epistemologies in terms of beliefs.



Jason Yip -- Connected Chemistry

March 9, 2009


The purpose of my talk is to describe a novel curriculum, titled Connected

Chemistry (CC), and its impact on students’ understanding of chemistry.  CC

implements the use of interactive modeling simulations to help students

visualize how macroscopic level phenomena are the result of the interactions of

molecules on the submicroscopic level.  CC provides students with the

opportunity to observe, explore, predict and investigate these interactions within

a simulated environment that affords connections between classroom

discussions and observed laboratory phenomena.  During this talk I will describe

the motivating factors behind the design of CC and how the curriculum is

structured.  There will also be an opportunity for members of the group to

participate in a CC simulation activity, as well as see samples of student work

and videos of a CC enactment.  Finally, I will outline the future research goals

and assessment of CC.



Colleen Gillespie and Jen Richards -- Understanding How and When Novice Teachers Attend to Student Thinking

April 6, 2009


In our presentation, we offer a case study of one novice science teacher in order

to explore how and when novice teachers attend to student thinking.  We focus

primarily on two classroom observations and subsequent interviews with the

novice teacher, Alex, in which we see stark differences in how (and even if) Alex

attends to his own students' ideas and reasoning in the classroom.  Drawing on

the theoretical framework of "framing," we consider the different ways in which

Alex may be framing the kinds of activities in which he is engaged, and we

propose that his framing may influence how and when he attends to student

thinking in his teaching.




TIffany Sikorski -- Situating coherence-seeking within a learning progression for scientific inquiry

April 20, 2009


A learning progression for inquiry describes the increasingly sophisticated

scientific practices that students may engage in as they pursue coherent,

mechanistic accounts of phenomena. Drawing on data from one elementary

classroom, I describe coherence-seeking as an example of a scientific practice. I

then situate the practice of coherence-seeking within a learning progression for

inquiry using the theoretical framework of resources and framing.





Luke Conlin -- Fantasy, Play, and Humor in Scientific Inquiry

May 4, 2009


Inquiry in science involves both generative and reductive aspects.  There must be

space for ideas to be generated, introduced, and developed.  Alternately, ideas

must be challenged, critiqued, and selected.  How do students navigate this

sensitive balance when doing inquiry in the science classroom?  I suggest they

often do so using fantasy, play, and humor to do so.  In this talk, I will discuss

theories of play and humor that speak to the epistemological roles they can take

on.  I will also show video clips of students using fantasy, play, and humor in ways

that contribute to the generative and reductive aspects of scientific inquiry.  Then I

will conclude by naming all 50 state capitals in less than 2 seconds. 



Leema Kuhn Berland

May 26, 2009


This talk is about a lively debate among 6th grade students about what an invasive species eats, based on a graph of the populations of wolves, rabbits, grass, and the IS.  In a sentence, the students and teacher spend 30 minutes focused on student ideas, with lots of good beginnings of evidence-based argumentation.  Then in the final 10 minutes the teacher tries to "take over" and explain the answer, but some of the students won't have it.


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