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Abstract Title: Broadening Our Lens: Socio-Cultural Perspectives in PER (Part II: Communities & Social Interaction)
Abstract: Research in physics education has conducted significant work at understanding student ideas and applying such understanding to the design of curricular reforms and evaluation instruments.  Studies of classroom practices are beginning to appear more frequently and suggest that we, as a community, may benefit from a broader theoretical lens.  This session focuses on applications of socio-cultural theories to education research in physics and physics teacher preparation.  It includes studies that examine: introductory college classrooms and after-school programs as cultural systems, building a learning community related to becoming and being a physics teacher, educational tools as mediating artifacts in student learning and engagement, and the creation of contexts supportive of all students in learning physics.  In Part 2 of this session, we will focus on the role of communities and participation within a community as mediating artifacts in student learning.
Abstract Type: Targeted Poster Session

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Noah Finkelstein
University of Colorado at Boulder
Department of Physics
2000 Colorado Ave
Boulder Colorado,, CO 80309
Phone: 303 735 6082
and Co-Presenter(s)
Chandra Turpen
University of Colorado

Targeted Poster Session Specific Information

Poster 1 Title: Our Classrooms as cultural systems: an examination of social and cultural influences in two educational environments
Poster 1 Authors: Noah Finkelstein, Chandra Turpen, and Laurel Mayhew
University of Colorado
Poster 1 Abstract: This inter-active poster seeks provides case studies of two educational environments, one, a formal introductory college level course that implements several PER-based innovations, the other, an informal afterschool educational program for children 6-18 years old.  Each is considered from two different cultural historical activity theoretic perspectives, which provide the opportunity make sense of both the theory and the educational environments by triangulating among both the theories and the environments. An activity theoretic lens frames the classroom and afterschool program as activity systems where we delineate variation in roles, rules, and distribution of labor surrounding the use of similar tools (physics concepts). A Communities of Practice and Apprenticeship lens frames these environments as allowing or constraining various forms of participation by members both within the classroom community and within the institutional setting.  The authors will share tools that will provide participants and opportunity to apply these perspectives to their own work and compare with our two case studies.
Poster 2 Title: Building a professional learning community of physics teachers
Poster 2 Authors: Eugenia Etkina
Rutgers University
Poster 2 Abstract: This poster will describe how a group of physics teachers built a professional learning community without ever knowing about this theoretical construct. The community was born to address the needs of seven pre-service physics teachers while supporting each other during student teaching in the Fall of 2003. Since then it has transformed into a living organism, that nurtures new members (now more than 40 in-service teachers), cares for the needs of everyone, provides timely advice for every-day problems, communicates passion to teaching, and provides natural professional development for all of its members. The discussion will focus on the elements of a professional learning community that are absolutely necessary to maintain it, specific features of a physics teachers learning community, and the role of faculty responsible for teacher preparation in helping sustain such a community.
Poster 3 Title: Moving beyond the classroom: Socio-cultural motivation for expanding the unit of analysis
Poster 3 Authors: Eric Brewe, Laird Kramer,Vashti Sawtelle, Idaykis Rodriguez, George O'Brien
Florida International University
Poster 3 Abstract: Efforts to document the complex learning community established by the Center for High Energy Physics Research and Education Outreach (CHEPREO) initially focused on classroom based measures of Modeling Instruction.  Classroom-based measures alone are insufficient to understand complex phenomena such as participation, retention, and persistence shown by our students.  The underlying Vygotskian perspective on learning in Modeling Instruction motivated a shift in unit of analysis, moving beyond standard measurements of physics classes toward understanding the patterns of interactions and participation in learning communities. Changing the unit of analysis from the class to the learning community allows us to consider the roles of social and cultural influences on participation, persistence and retention. In this poster we re-frame the CHEPREO reform efforts through an ecological framework [Aubusson] and describe how this framing supports students especially given the cultural makeup of FIU's student body.
Poster 4 Title: Promoting Conceptual Change and Development of Collective Responsibility
Poster 4 Authors: Elizabeth S. Charles, Dawson College, Montreal
Nathaniel Lasry, John Abbott College, Montreal
Chris Whittaker, Dawson College, Montreal
Poster 4 Abstract: Socio-cultural approaches view learning as a social phenomenon, situated in the course of human activities. Thus, student learning and conceptual change is enhanced by instruction that creates opportunities for students to interact socially with others while engaged in appropriate learning activities. Models of instruction that promote social-interactions include Peer Instruction and community of learners (Brown&Campione,1994). This poster presents results from a case study of an introductory physics course using Peer Instruction. Audio recordings were made of small group conversations where students explained and justified their choices to peers. Discourse analyses of recordings show that students expend greater effort over time, build more rigorous arguments and regulate their discourse using both individual and collective processes of monitoring (eg. in time, peers use as well as demand more precise definitions and justifications before accepting arguments). Our results show changes in individual student's attitudes toward their personal and collective responsibility to classmates.