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PERC 2009 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Cognition of an Expert Tackling an Unfamiliar Conceptual Physics Problem
Abstract: We have investigated and analyzed in detail the cognition of an expert tackling a qualitative conceptual physics problem of an unfamiliar type.  The basic but non-trivial task was to find qualitatively the acceleration direction of a pendulum bob at various stages of its motion, originally studied by Reif and Allen.  Methodology included introspection, retrospection and self-reported metacognition. Different reasoning was used for different points on the motion path, revealing multiple facets of cognition, including its context- and background-dependence. An account will be given of the zigzag thinking paths and interplay of various reasoning modes and knowledge elements invoked. We interpret the cognitive processes using theoretical ideas such as: case-based, principle-based and experiential-intuitive reasoning; general strategies; schemata; association and transfer; cueing and interference; metacognition and epistemic frames. The rich microcosm of cognition brought out in this case study contrasts with the tidy systematic problem solutions we usually present to students.  We discuss implications for instruction in problem-solving.
Abstract Type: Round Table Discussion

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: David Schuster
Western Michigan University
Physics Department
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Phone: (269) 387-5844
Fax: (269) 387-4998
and Co-Presenter(s)
Adriana Undreiu
University of Virginia's College at Wise
Department of Natural Sciences
One College Ave, Wise, VA 24293
(269) 267-2198
au8e -at- uvawise.edu