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2002 PERC Proceedings

Conference Information

Dates: August 7-8, 2002
Location: Boise, ID
Theme: Alternative Approaches to Assessment in Physics Teaching and Research in Physics Learning

Proceedings Information

Editors: Scott Franklin, Karen Cummings, and Jeffrey Marx
Published: August 7, 2002

Table of Contents

Front Matter
Preface
Invited Papers (5)
Peer-reviewed Papers (19)
Contributed Non-peer-reviewed Papers (3)
Corrected Papers (1)

INVITED MANUSCRIPTS (5)

First Author Index

Sandifer · Wittmann · Kraus · Meltzer · Etkina

Invited Papers

Using Qualitative Methods to Make and Support Claims in Physics Education Research
Cody Sandifer and Andy Johnson
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This document summarizes a session, held at the 2002 Physics Education research conference, that was designed to stimulate conversations about the use of qualitative methods in physics education research. The session began with a general overview of qualitative research. Then, to provide a context for discussion, facilitators conducted a mini research activity; in which they introduced data (interview, video transcripts, and student work) from a university physics course for preservice teachers. Participants were given the task of examining the data and deciding whether a particular claim was sufficiently supported by the data. A rich discussion ensued, in which many research-related issues were raised. These issues, which might serve as topics of discussion for future sessions, are listed and briefly editorialized at the end of this paper.

C. Sandifer and A. Johnson, Using Qualitative Methods to Make and Support Claims in Physics Education Research, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Limitations in Predicting Student Performance on Standardized Tests
Michael C. Wittmann
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This research paper, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, the author argues that the Maryland Physics Expectations Survey (MPEX), which describes student attitudes and expectations toward learning, and might be used to predict normalized gains on tests such as the Force and Motion Concept Evaluation (FMCE); is an incomplete predictor of possible gains on standardized tests. The author also illustrates the problems involved in using the MPEX to predict productive attitudes toward learning physics by focusing on two students, both with seemingly appropriate expectations toward learning. While one had high normalized gains, the other did not, due to "false favorable" responses on the MPEX.

M. C. Wittmann, Limitations in Predicting Student Performance on Standardized Tests, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Designing Diagnostic Assessments
Pamela Kraus and Jim Minstrell
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This paper, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, describes the process of creating diagnostic assessments to assist teachers in formatively assessing their students. The process begins with the learning targets and ends with the creation of web-delivered sets of questions designed to diagnose students' facets of thinking. Early analysis from our first year of implementation indicates students are reading and thinking about the questions in their assignment. The researchers found that that, for certain topics, students' facets of thinking are highly context dependent.

P. Kraus and J. Minstrell, Designing Diagnostic Assessments, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Issues Related to Data Analysis and Quantitative Methods in PER
David E. Meltzer
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This paper, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, offers authors' discussion of some issues that always arise, implicitly or explicitly, when conducting quantitative research and carrying out data analysis in Physics Education Research. (Most are relevant for qualitative research as well.)

D. E. Meltzer, Issues Related to Data Analysis and Quantitative Methods in PER, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Time to Change
Eugenia Etkina
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This paper, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, describes alternative formative assessment techniques and their implementation in an introductory physics course. These techniques help students develop some abilities that are used by scientists and engineers: reflection on the knowledge construction, question posing, statement evaluation, and convincing others in the viability of their knowledge.

E. Etkina, Time to Change, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

PEER REVIEWED MANUSCRIPTS (19)

First Author Index

Sabella · Scherr · Singh · Warnakulasooriya · Wittmann · Lee · Lindell · Loverude · McCullough · Hrepic · Itza-Ortiz · Oliver · Kim · Kuo · Gray · French · Foster · Cummings · Henderson

Peer-reviewed Papers

Implementing Tutorials in Introductory Physics at an Inner-City University in Chicago
Mel Sabella
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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Tutorials in Introductory Physics are widely used and have proven to be effective in promoting student understanding for many students in introductory physics. Despite this, there are currently few research results that document their effectiveness at inner-city schools in which students may have weak preparation in mathematics and reading. This paper discusses preliminary efforts in implementing and evaluating the effectiveness of these materials for students at an inner-city university located on the south side of Chicago.

M. Sabella, Implementing Tutorials in Introductory Physics at an Inner-City University in Chicago, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

The challenge of listening: The effect of researcher agenda on data collection and interpretation
Rachel E. Scherr and Michael C. Wittmann
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This article, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, discusses how a researcher's interests dictate which student statements in a clinical interview are considered to constitute data. The authors argue that to the extent that research agendas are unexamined, they may control attention inappropriately, limiting the effectiveness of both data collection and data interpretation. The authors describe an interview in which the interviewer paid nearly exclusive attention to the student's conceptual understanding of charge flow, thereby missing information about, for example, her epistemological frame. The authors also describe a later analysis of the same interview, in which our first reactions to the interview say more about our agendas as researchers than about the character of the interview itself.

R. E. Scherr and M. C. Wittmann, The challenge of listening: The effect of researcher agenda on data collection and interpretation, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Effectiveness of Group Interaction on Conceptual Standardized Test Performance
Chandralekha Singh
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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In this article, the author analyzes the effectiveness of working in pairs on the Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism test in a calculus-based introductory physics course. Students who collaborated with a peer showed significantly larger normalized gain on individual testing after the group work than those who did not collaborate. Peer collaboration also shows evidence for co-construction. We discuss the effect of pairing students with different individual achievements.

C. Singh, Effectiveness of Group Interaction on Conceptual Standardized Test Performance, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Towards a Model-based Diagnostic Instrument in Electricity and Magnetism: An Example
Rasil Warnakulasooriya and Lei Bao
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This document contains a research study, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, in which the authors discuss suggestion of how to develop diagostic tools to identify important aspects of students' knowledge that are revealed through current assessment tools.

R. Warnakulasooriya and L. Bao, Towards a Model-based Diagnostic Instrument in Electricity and Magnetism: An Example, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Student Epistemological Mode Constraining Researcher Access to Student Thinking: An Example from an Interview on Charge Flow
Michael C. Wittmann and Rachel E. Scherr
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This research study, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, discusses how a student's guiding epistemological mode (be it knowledge as memorized information, knowledge from authority, or knowledge as fabricated stuff) may constrain that student from reasoning in productive ways while also shaping the inferences a researcher can make about how that student reasons about a particular phenomenon. The authors discuss both cases in the context of an individual student interview on charge flow in wires.

M. C. Wittmann and R. E. Scherr, Student Epistemological Mode Constraining Researcher Access to Student Thinking: An Example from an Interview on Charge Flow, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Context Map: A Method to Represent the Interactions Between Students' Learning and Multiple Context Factors
Gyoungho Lee and Lei Bao
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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In previous research, researchers have identified a wide range of context factors that could affect student learning, either independently or in combination. However, it is less clear how specific context factors may affect student learning or interact among themselves. To investigate this issue, we developed a tool called context map that provides a graphical representation of the effects and interactions of multiple context factors. We will show examples and discuss the implications of this method for research and instruction.

G. Lee and L. Bao, Context Map: A Method to Represent the Interactions Between Students' Learning and Multiple Context Factors, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Developing the Lunar Phases Concept Inventory
Rebecca S. Lindell and James P. Olsen
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This paper, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, discuss the development of the LPCI, as well as results from field-testing the instrument at five institutions across the United States. The Lunar Phases Concept Inventory (LPCI) was developed to aid instructors in assessing students' mental models of lunar phases. Based upon an in-depth qualitative investigation of students' initial models of lunar phases, this multiple-choice inventory was designed to take advantage of the innovative model analysis theory and to probe the different dimensions of students' mental models of lunar phases. The development of this inventory will be discussed, as well as the processes involved in establishing its reliability and validity.

R. S. Lindell and J. P. Olsen, Developing the Lunar Phases Concept Inventory, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Do Students Conceptualize Energy as a Material Substance?
Michael E. Loverude
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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In this study, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, the author discusses results of a study in which university students in a physics course for pre-service elementary school teachers answers to a series of problems during and after instruction in which students are asked about the mass of objects after energy transfers, or about the balancing behavior of heated objects. The author found that students answer suggest that, while some students may conceptualize energy as a substance with mass and volume, this idea is not consistently applied.

M. E. Loverude, Do Students Conceptualize Energy as a Material Substance?, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Gender, Math, and the FCI
Laura McCullough
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This research paper, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, examines how math background may interact with gender on the FCI assessment instrument. 300 non-physics students were given one of two versions of the Force Concept Inventory, along with a brief demographic questionnaire. The trends suggest a preliminary conclusion that math preparation has little effect on FCI score.

L. McCullough, Gender, Math, and the FCI, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Identifying Students' Models of Sound Propagation
Zdeslav Hrepic, Dean A. Zollman, and N. Sanjay Rebello
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This paper, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, discusses the authors' investigation of students' mental models of sound propagation in introductory physics classes. In addition to the scientifically accepted wave model, students used the "entity" model. The authors discuss how students use these models in various contexts before and after instruction. This study also indicates a clear pattern of model change due to instruction. Students who construct models often start with the entity model and generally progress through the hybrid or mixed model states before finishing in the wave model state.

Z. Hrepic, D. A. Zollman, and N. S. Rebello, Identifying Students' Models of Sound Propagation, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

A Summary of Students' Mental Models and Their Applications in Contexts Pertaining to Newton's II law
Salomon F. Itza-Ortiz and N. Sanjay Rebello
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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In this study, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, authors describe their investigation of students' use of Newton's II law in mechanics and electricity and magnetism contexts. They interviewed 16 students in a two-semester calculus-based physics course and found students' answers are consistent with two principal mental models and a combination of these two. The authors also explore whether the students who use Newton's Second Law in mechanics contexts continue to do so in electricity and magnetism.

S. F. Itza-Ortiz and N. S. Rebello, A Summary of Students' Mental Models and Their Applications in Contexts Pertaining to Newton's II law, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

On the Study of Student Use of Meta-Resources in Learning Quantum Mechanics
Keith Oliver and Lei Bao
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This research paper, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, discusses the authors' research on student use of resources in learning quantum mechanics, which shows that a student often needs to make judgments among competing ideas. The researchers state that they see the potential to develop a new category of resources, meta-resources, to model the views and beliefs as well as meta-cognitive processes that students use in making judgments. Examples from student interviews are discussed as initial evidence for a larger scale investigation toward this area.

K. Oliver and L. Bao, On the Study of Student Use of Meta-Resources in Learning Quantum Mechanics, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Secondary Students' Cognitive Process for the Line Graph from Graph Components
Tae-Sun Kim and Beom-Ki Kim
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This paper, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, presents the results of a study intended to investigate students' cognitive process when reading line graphs, empirically. The researchers developed a computer program to determine the order readers glance the components of a line graph; and then analyzed the glancing order of each component. The authors developed a computer program to determine the order readers glance the components of a line graph; and then authors analyzed the glancing order of each component. The results help identify secondary students' cognitive process for line graph.

T. Kim and B. Kim, Secondary Students' Cognitive Process for the Line Graph from Graph Components, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Teaching Students Problem Solving in Introductory Physics: Forming an Initial Hypothesis of Instructors' Beliefs
H. Vincent Kuo, Kenneth Heller, Patricia Heller, Charles R. Henderson, and Edit Yerushalmi
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This paper, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, shares an initial hypothesis of instructors' beliefs about their role in helping students learn to solve problems in an introductory calculus-based physics course. Instructors see their teaching role as primarily providing resources and making suggestions, with little mentioning of how they influence the students to use the resources or follow the suggestions.

H. V. Kuo, K. Heller, P. Heller, C. R. Henderson, and E. Yerushalmi, Teaching Students Problem Solving in Introductory Physics: Forming an Initial Hypothesis of Instructors' Beliefs, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

The Effect of Question Order on Responses to Multiple-choice Questions
Kara E. Gray, N. Sanjay Rebello, and Dean A. Zollman
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This paper, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, investigates how the order of two related FCI questions (#13 and 14) affects students' responses. This study also investigates the effect an unrelated FCI question (#23) has on answers to the above problems. Four versions of a survey were administered before and after instruction to 243 students taking an algebra-based physics class. Versions 1 and 2 of the survey included the related physics questions in opposite order. Versions 3 and 4 included the unrelated physics question and one of the above questions. Student responses for the four versions were compared for both the pre- and post-instruction surveys.

K. E. Gray, N. S. Rebello, and D. A. Zollman, The Effect of Question Order on Responses to Multiple-choice Questions, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Effectiveness of Abridged Interactive Lecture Demonstrations
Timothy French and Karen Cummings
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This paper, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, describes an experiment designed to investigate an abridged Interactive Lecture Demonstration performed in the Studio Physics I course at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) during the spring of 2002. Approximately 300 students in several different sections of the course were divided into two groups. Both groups witnessed an entire Newton's Third Law ILD series. However, one group was asked for only a prediction before viewing each demonstration. The other group was prompted to engage in all eight steps of the suggested ILD procedure. The authors provide a detailed discussion of the experiment, learning gains for the two groups as measured with the Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation (FMCE), and implications for instruction.

T. French and K. Cummings, Effectiveness of Abridged Interactive Lecture Demonstrations, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Implications of Distributed Cognition for PER
Thomas M. Foster
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This paper, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, discusses how Cognitive Science has influenced physics education research and introduces the 'radical' notion of distributed cognition, which posits that our surroundings and tools have intelligence. After the introduction of this notion, the author discusses a few implications for physics education research.

T. M. Foster, Implications of Distributed Cognition for PER, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Student Textbook Use in Introductory Physics
Karen Cummings, Timothy French, and Patrick Cooney
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This article, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, reports on a two part study examining the extent to which students use a textbook in calculus-based introductory physics courses for scientists and engineers. The first aspect of the study is an investigation of how the placement of worked examples influences student use of the textbook. The second aspect studied is how course assignments can be used to encourage students to read the textbook.

K. Cummings, T. French, and P. Cooney, Student Textbook Use in Introductory Physics, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Students Learning Problem Solving in Introductory Physics - Forming an Initial Hypothesis of Instructors' Beliefs
Charles R. Henderson, Kenneth Heller, Patricia Heller, H. Vincent Kuo, and Edit Yerushalmi
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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Based on an analysis of structured interviews with 6 research university physics faculty members, this paper presents our initial hypothesis of instructors' beliefs about how their students learn to solve problems in an introductory physics course. The hypothesis shows that these instructors have very general beliefs about the process of student learning that do not include many details about actual learning mechanisms.

C. R. Henderson, K. Heller, P. Heller, H. V. Kuo, and E. Yerushalmi, Students Learning Problem Solving in Introductory Physics - Forming an Initial Hypothesis of Instructors' Beliefs, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

CONTRIBUTED NON-PEER-REVIEWED PAPERS (3)

First Author Index

Sadaghiani · Sandifer · Kim

Contributed Non-peer-reviewed Papers

Immediate, Informative Feedback Using a New Homework System
Homeyra R. Sadaghiani and Lei Bao
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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Students often complain about the traditional homework system's inefficiency and the lack of resources during problem solving sessions. The Physics Education Research Group at The Ohio State University is exploring a new homework system for introductory physics courses, in which students are given the solutions to their assignments before the due date. Each homework problem is also labeled with A, B or C to show the difficulty level as an additional feedback for students to evaluate their progress. The authors report the preliminary outcomes and effectiveness of this new system.

H. R. Sadaghiani and L. Bao, Immediate, Informative Feedback Using a New Homework System, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Factors Influencing Middle School Students' Sense-Making Discussions during their Small-Group Investigations of Force/Motion
Homeyra R. Sadaghiani and Lei Bao
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This paper, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research conference, describes a study conducted to investigate small-group discussions in an inquiry-based middle school science classroom in order to determine the group and individual factors that provide support (or not) for students' sense-making discussions. Two groups were videotaped and a six-component framework was used to identify and categorize instances of sense-making: predicting; clarifying facts; describing and explaining a phenomenon or experimental result; defining, describing, clarifying, and connecting scientific concepts, procedures, processes, and representations; testing knowledge compatibility; and making requests for any of the above. Analysis revealed that there were differences in sense-making discussion across both groups and individual students. Differences across groups are explained in terms of group obligations and expectations, collaboration, and leadership. Differences across students are explained in terms of learning and social goals, science interest, work preferences, and ability.

H. R. Sadaghiani and L. Bao, Factors Influencing Middle School Students' Sense-Making Discussions during their Small-Group Investigations of Force/Motion, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

Students' Cognitive Conflict Levels by Provided Quantitative Demonstration and Qualitative Demonstration
Homeyra R. Sadaghiani and Lei Bao
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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The purpose of this study was to understand middle school students' cognitive conflict levels when they were confronted with anomalous situations. The anomalous situations were created by two different methods; quantitative and qualitative demonstrations. In this research, two physics contexts, mechanics and electricity were used. In each context, two test items, one for quantitative demonstration and the other for qualitative demonstration were given to the students after a pretest. To measure the cognitive conflict levels, a Cognitive Conflict Levels Test (CCLT) developed by Lee et al. (1999) was used. The quantitative demonstration group showed higher cognitive conflict level than the qualitative group did in the electricity context; however, there was no significant difference in the mechanics context.

H. R. Sadaghiani and L. Bao, Students' Cognitive Conflict Levels by Provided Quantitative Demonstration and Qualitative Demonstration, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.

CORRECTED 2001 PAPERS (1)

First Author Index

Otero

Corrected 2001 Papers

Conceptual Development and Context: How Do They Relate?
Valerie K. Otero
2002 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
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This paper combines results from a larger research study that focuses on both cognitive and social aspects of learning. The theoretical perspective used is distributed cognition, in which students, students interacting with tools (such as laboratory apparatus and computer simulators), and students interacting with others and with tools are considered a cognitive system that generates learning. According to this perspective, each element of the system contributes to the cognitive product by sharing part of the cognitive load associated with a task. The unit of analysis of this paper is a group of three students working with tools, although results from a study where the unit of analysis was the single student are also used.

V. K. Otero, Conceptual Development and Context: How Do They Relate?, 2002 PERC Proceedings [Boise, ID, August 7-8, 2002], edited by S. Franklin, K. Cummings, and J. Marx.