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Abstract Title: Development of functional understanding in physics: Promoting ability to reason
Abstract: A functional understanding of a concept in physics connotes the ability to interpret and apply it appropriately. The need to help students learn how to do the requisite reasoning is often ignored in introductory physics, a neglect that often continues in upper division courses. The emphasis in most recent research at the university level has been on the qualitative understanding of concepts, models of student thinking, and problem solving ability. These are all important, but there is also a need to conduct research to guide the development of instructional materials that promote the development of basic scientific reasoning skills (e.g., interpretation of proportions, construction of proper analogies, control of variables, use of limiting arguments, deductive and inductive logic). Examples will illustrate how the study of physics can cultivate ability in scientific reasoning.

The research and related curriculum development discussed in this presentation have been supported, in part, by a series of NSF grants, of which the most recent are: DUE #0618185 and DR-K12 #0733276.
Abstract Type: Invited Talk

Invited Presentation

Invited Presentation: Download the Invited Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Lillian C. McDermott
University of Washington
Department of Physics
Box 351560
Seattle, WA 98195-1560