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2010 Summer Meeting

2011 AAPT Summer Meeting
July 30-August 3, 2011
Omaha, Nebraska

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Formative Assessment of Hypothetico-deductive Reasoning by Directly Challenging Student Epistemology
  Location: SS 104
  Date: Wednesday, Aug.3
  Time: 9:30 AM -9:40 AM
  Author: James Moore, Coastal Carolina University
  Co-Author(s): None
  Abstract: A critical skill necessary for practicing scientists is the application of the hypothetico-deductive model and the use of all available epistemological resources to determine new truths. Hypothetico-deductive reasoning can be assessed via written tests; however, these types of assessments avoid situations where students have deeply held pre-conceived knowledge. We present a case study where first-year physics majors are confronted with epistemic complexity; their pre-conceived "knowledge" is directly challenged, forcing them to apply different epistemological resources towards the design of an appropriate experiment. Students struggle with developing hypothetico-deductive models that probe strongly held beliefs, whereas they do not for unknown or weakly held assumptions. For strong beliefs, students limit themselves to certain modes of knowledge construction, specifically those that led to the beliefs in the first place. These challenges can be used to probe the depth of student reasoning, and explicit confrontation of this dichotomy can make students stronger truth seekers.
  Footnotes: None
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