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Abstract Title: Instructional explanations as an interface - The role of explanatory primitives
Abstract: What makes an instructional sequence in physics meaningful to students? Why do some explanations seem more plausible than others? Why is it that an explanation can appear plausible to one student but not to another?  We present a model that addresses these questions.  Elaborating on diSessa's (1993) concept of p-prims, we develop a model of explanatory primitives, and argue that different individuals have different sets of explanatory primitives, or assign different priority to the same explanatory primitives in certain contexts. We use this idea to argue that this difference between individuals can account for differences in reactions to a specific instructional explanation, and present empirical data to support this claim. We then use the model to analyze Jim Minsrell's (1982) instructional sequence on the existence of a normal force to explain how an effective learning sequence addresses the differences between individuals by evoking a rich set of explanatory primitives.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Shulamit Kapon
Graduate School of Education, University of California Berkeley
4517 Tolman Hall, Graduate School of Education
University of California Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-1670
Phone: 408-390-1600
and Co-Presenter(s)
Andrea A. diSessa
Graduate School of Education, University of California Berkeley