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

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PST2C11:

Towards a Better Understanding of Confusion
  Location: KFC Courts
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.2
  Time: 5:15 PM -6:00 PM
  Author: Jason Dowd, Harvard University
7733830088, jedowd.work@gmail.com
  Co-Author(s): Ives S. Araujo , Eric Mazur
  Abstract: Physics instructors typically try to avoid confusing their students. However, the truism underlying this approach, "confusion is bad," has been challenged by educators dating as far back as Socrates, who asked students to question assumptions and wrestle with ideas. This begs the question: Are confused students lost, or does their confusion indicate more critical thinking than less-confused learners? In previous work, we focused on a single reading assignment, a snapshot. Insights from this work allowed us to refine and expand our study to more than 40 snapshots that span two semesters of introductory physics, which involved Just-in-Time Teaching and research-based reading materials. We evaluated performance on assignments while simultaneously asking students to self-assess their confusion over the material, and then probed whether "confused" students were correct more or less frequently than "not-confused" students. We highlight our results and draw some conclusions about confusion. Is it really as bad as it seems?
  Footnotes: None
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