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Making expert cognitive processes visible: planning and preliminary analysis in theoretical physics research
written by Michael Verostek, Molly Griston, Jesús Botello, and Benjamin M. Zwickl
Many of the activities and cognitive processes that physicists use while solving problems are "invisible" to students, which can hinder their acquisition of important expert-like skills.  Whereas the detailed calculations performed by researchers are often published in journals and textbooks, other activities such as those undertaken while planning how to approach a problem are rarely discussed in published research.  Hence, these activities are especially hidden from students.  To better understand how physicists solve problems in their professional research, we leveraged the framework of cognitive task analysis to conduct semi-structured interviews with theoretical physicists (N=11).  Here we elucidate the role of planning and preliminary analysis in theorists' work.  Theorists described using a variety of activities in order to decide if their project was doable while also generating possible solution paths.  These actions included doing cursory calculations, reflecting on previous knowledge, gaining intuition and understanding by studying prior work, and reproducing previous results.  We found that theorists typically did not pursue projects unless they had a clear idea of what the outcome of their project would be, or at least knew that they would be able to make progress on the problem.  Thus, this preliminary design and analysis phase was highly important for theorists despite being largely hidden from students.  We conclude by suggesting potential ways to incorporate our findings into the classroom to give students more numerous opportunities to engage in these expert-like practices.
Physics Education Research Conference 2022
Part of the PER Conference series
Grand Rapids, MI: July 13-14, 2022
Pages 469-474
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education - Basic Research
- Behavior
- Cognition
- Problem Solving
= Expert-Novice Comparisons
= Heuristics
= Processes
- Research Design & Methodology
= Evaluation
- Sample Population
= Instructor: Faculty
- Graduate/Professional
- Reference Material
= Research study
PER-Central Type Intended Users Ratings
- PER Literature
- Researchers
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Format:
application/pdf
Mirror:
https://doi.org/10.1119/perc.2022…
Access Rights:
Free access
License:
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the published article's author(s), title, proceedings citation, and DOI.
Rights Holder:
American Association of Physics Teachers
DOI:
10.1119/perc.2022.pr.Verostek
NSF Numbers:
1846321
1757477
Keyword:
PERC 2022
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created September 7, 2022 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
September 14, 2022 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
September 15, 2022
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Record Link
AIP Format
M. Verostek, M. Griston, J. Botello, and B. Zwickl, , presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2022, Grand Rapids, MI, 2022, WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=16278&DocID=5647).
AJP/PRST-PER
M. Verostek, M. Griston, J. Botello, and B. Zwickl, Making expert cognitive processes visible: planning and preliminary analysis in theoretical physics research, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2022, Grand Rapids, MI, 2022, <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=16278&DocID=5647>.
APA Format
Verostek, M., Griston, M., Botello, J., & Zwickl, B. (2022, July 13-14). Making expert cognitive processes visible: planning and preliminary analysis in theoretical physics research. Paper presented at Physics Education Research Conference 2022, Grand Rapids, MI. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=16278&DocID=5647
Chicago Format
Verostek, M, M. Griston, J. Botello, and B. Zwickl. "Making expert cognitive processes visible: planning and preliminary analysis in theoretical physics research." Paper presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2022, Grand Rapids, MI, July 13-14, 2022. https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=16278&DocID=5647 (accessed 24 June 2024).
MLA Format
Verostek, Michael, Molly Griston, Jesús Botello, and Benjamin Zwickl. "Making expert cognitive processes visible: planning and preliminary analysis in theoretical physics research." Physics Education Research Conference 2022. Grand Rapids, MI: 2022. 469-474 of PER Conference. 24 June 2024 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=16278&DocID=5647>.
BibTeX Export Format
@inproceedings{ Author = "Michael Verostek and Molly Griston and Jesús Botello and Benjamin Zwickl", Title = {Making expert cognitive processes visible: planning and preliminary analysis in theoretical physics research}, BookTitle = {Physics Education Research Conference 2022}, Pages = {469-474}, Address = {Grand Rapids, MI}, Series = {PER Conference}, Month = {July 13-14}, Year = {2022} }
Refer Export Format

%A Michael Verostek %A Molly Griston %A Jesús Botello %A Benjamin Zwickl %T Making expert cognitive processes visible: planning and preliminary analysis in theoretical physics research %S PER Conference %D July 13-14 2022 %P 469-474 %C Grand Rapids, MI %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=16278&DocID=5647 %O Physics Education Research Conference 2022 %O July 13-14 %O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Conference Proceedings %A Verostek, Michael %A Griston, Molly %A Botello, Jesús %A Zwickl, Benjamin %D July 13-14 2022 %T Making expert cognitive processes visible: planning and preliminary analysis in theoretical physics research %B Physics Education Research Conference 2022 %C Grand Rapids, MI %P 469-474 %S PER Conference %8 July 13-14 %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=16278&DocID=5647


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