program_wb_i - page 63

July 26–30, 2014
Monday afternoon
that illustrate some of the difficulties that students have with superposition.
We also discuss how the results have guided the design of a lecture-tutorial
that improves student understanding both immediately and months after
2-2:10 p.m. Assumptions and Idealizations in Students’
Reasoning During Laboratory Activities
Contributed – Benjamin M. Zwickl, Rochester Institute of Technology, Roch-
ester, NY 14623-5603;
Dehui Hu Rochester, Institute of Technology
Noah Finkelstein, H. J. Lewandowski, University of Colorado Boulder
Assumptions and idealizations play a significant role in developing and
applying models to real-world situations. Assumptions make models more
tractable, but also impact the design of experiments (through the introduc-
tion of possible sources of systematic error) and limit the range of validity
of predictions. In this investigation, students conducted a think-aloud
laboratory activity using LEDs. Videos were coded and analyzed using
a framework developed for model-based reasoning designed for upper-
division physics laboratory classes. The analysis focuses on multiple roles
of assumptions within the activity: making, recognizing, and justifying as-
sumptions; linking assumptions to limitations of the validity of theoretical
predictions and measured results; and using knowledge of assumptions to
iteratively improve experimental results.
2:10-2:20 p.m. Student Learning of Critical Circuits
Concepts in Physics and Engineering*
Contributed – Kevin Van De Bogart, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469;
MacKenzie Stetzer, University of Maine
As part of a new effort to investigate the learning and teaching of concepts
in thermodynamics and electronics that are integral to both undergradu-
ate physics and engineering programs, we have been examining student
learning in electrical engineering and physics courses on circuits and
electronics. Due to the considerable overlap in the content coverage, we
have been able to administer the same (or similar) questions to students in
both disciplines. A major goal of this work is to investigate the impact of
disciplinary context on the nature of student understanding, including the
prevalence of specific difficulties. This talk will focus on foundational con-
cepts (e.g., loading) that are critical to the design and analysis of circuits in
all courses studied. Preliminary results will be presented and implications
for instruction will be discussed.
*This work has been supported in part by the National Science Foundation under
Grant Nos. DUE-1323426 and DUE-0962805.
2:20-2:30 p.m. Conceptual Difficulties Interpreting P-V
Diagrams Across Physics and Engineering
Contributed – Jessica W. Clark, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469;
John R. Thompson, Donald B. Mountcastle, University of Maine
As part of a new effort to investigate the learning and teaching of concepts
in thermodynamics and electronics in both physics and engineering, we
have been examining student learning of thermodynamics in mechanical
and chemical engineering and physics courses. Based on free-response
surveys and individual interviews, we find that students in all disciplines
have difficulty with the first law of thermodynamics and its constituent ele-
ments: students either do not recognize its relevance or use it improperly.
At the beginning of each of these courses, a majority of students treat work
as a path-independent function (i.e., as if it were a state variable). This and
other lines of reasoning, particularly relating to graphical interpretations
of work, persist through instruction, although the degree of persistence
varies by discipline. We will share findings about the relative prevalence
of lines of reasoning and will relate our results to individual disciplinary
emphases and pedagogies. The work described has been supported in part
by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. DUE-0817282 and
2:30-2:40 p.m. Understanding the Neural Correlates of
Problem Solving Across Multiple Cognitive Domains
Contributed – Jessica E. Bartley, Florida International University, Miami, FL
Kimberly L. Ray, Michael C. Riedel, Research Imaging Institute, University of
Texas Health Science Center San Antonio
Eric Brewe, Angela R. Laird, Florida International University
Complex reasoning and problem-solving are integral cognitive constructs
relevant to understanding how students acquire critical thinking skills in
physics. Functional magnetic resonance imaging may offer neurobiologi-
cal insight into how these critical thinking skills are acquired. Prior work
studying the neural correlates of problem-solving has focused within
specific cognitive domains, e.g. mathematical calculation, verbal problem-
solving, or visuospatial reasoning.
However, research identifying neural
networks engaged during physics problem-solving is limited. We use the
BrainMap database
to perform a series of neuroimaging meta-analyses
across multiple distinct cognitive domains likely involved in physics
problem-solving. Common activation patterns are observed in the bilateral
insula, mid and superior frontal gyrus, and parietal cortices, suggesting
that reasoning across domains is supported by a superordinate problem-
solving network.
1. S.D Newman et al,
Brain Research
1410, 77-88 (2011).
2. V. Prabhakaran et al,
Cog Psych
, 43-63 (1997).
3. A.R. Laird et al,
, 65-78 (2005).
2:40–2:50 p.m. Uses of ICT in Teaching Physics
Contributed – Oscar Jardey OJS Suarez,* Universidad Distrital Francisco
José de Caldas, Carrera 3a Calle 26, Bogotá, AA 11001 Colombia;
This paper seeks to identify the use of ICT Information Communication
Technologies by teachers in teaching practices. The source of information
corresponds to reports in the last five years that appeared in magazines
such as
Colombian Journal of Physics
Latino American Journal Physics Edu-
Revista Brasileira de Ensino Physics,
Journal of Research and Teach-
ing Experiences
Journal of Physics
The Physics Teacher Online
, the
of Engineering Education,
among others. This is a methodically informa-
tional analysis accompanied by theoretical reflection on the context of an
epistemological approach to teaching physics to engineering. Among the
main findings is that ICTs have been incorporated as a mediating element
between the physical knowledge and physical learning and as mediating
artifacts of the dynamics present in physics laboratories.
* PhD in Education with an emphasis in Science Physics Teacher Fundación Universi-
dad Autónoma de Colombia. Research Project “Learning objects as cultural artifacts:
conceptions of physics teachers working in the faculty of engineering”. Partially
financed by the Research Center University District Francisco José de Caldas
2:50-3 p.m. Addressing Student Difficulties with
non-Cartesian Unit Vectors in Upper-Level E&M
Contributed – Brant E. Hinrichs, Drury University, Springfield, MO 65802;
An upper-level E&M course (i.e. based on Griffiths) involves the extensive
integration of vector calculus concepts and notation with abstract physics
concepts like field and potential. We hope that students take what they
have learned in their math classes and apply it to help represent and
make sense of the physics. In a 2010 PERC paper I showed how students
at different levels (pre-E&M course, post-E&M course, 1st year gradu-
ate students) and in different disciplines (physics, electrical engineering)
have difficulty using non-Cartesian unit vectors appropriately. I have now
developed a small sequence of in-class activities to help students over come
these kinds of difficulties. I present preliminary evidence here on their
1...,53,54,55,56,57,58,59,60,61,62 64,65,66,67,68,69,70,71,72,73,...170
Powered by FlippingBook