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Abstract Title: Ontologies of Physics Concepts: A Toy Model
Abstract: A prominent approach towards understanding the source of naive misconceptions in science argues that misconceptions arise due to novices' commitment to categorizing physics processes (such as heat, current) as substances and that there is a significant cognitive barrier to re-categorizing these concepts correctly [1]. Methodologically, this approach assumes a one-to-one correspondence between verbal expression and ontology in the mind. Previously, we have used this methodology to show that expert as well as novice reasoning of a concept is not constrained within a single ontological category [2]. Here we present an alternative way to model students' ontologies, without the assumption binding verbal expression directly to ontologies. We model a graduate student's reasoning about heat in terms of the conceptual resources [3] that she uses. We claim that clusters of closely-associated resources activated in the moment reflect her ontology of heat and explore how her epistemological stance influences her ontology of heat over the course of her explanation*.

FOOTNOTES: [1] Chi, M. T. H., Slotta, J., & de Leeuw., N. (1994). Learning & Instruction, 4, 27-43; Slotta, J., & Chi,  M. T. H., (2006). Cog. & Instr. 24, 261-289.
[2] Gupta, A., Hammer, D., & Redish, E. F. (In Press). Proceedings of International Conference of the Learning Sciences 2008, In Press.
[3] Hammer, D., Elby, A., Scherr, R. E., & Redish, E. F. (2004). "Resources, framing, and transfer," in Transfer of Learning: Research and Perspectives, J. Mestre, ed. (Information Age Publishing).
*This research is supported by NSF grants REC 04-40113 & DUE 05-24987
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Ayush Gupta
Department of Physics, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.
Rm 1320, John S. Toll Physics Building
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
Phone: 240-893-1962
and Co-Presenter(s)
David Hammer, Departments of Physics and Curriculum & Instruction, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Email: davidham -at- umd.edu
E. F. Redish, Departments of Physics and Curriculum & Instruction, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Email: redish -at- umd.edu