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PERC 2011 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Reasoning with Physical Models
Abstract: Model-based reasoning in physics requires, among other skills, the use of deductive reasoning.  In two different contexts -- pencil and paper problems requiring qualitative reasoning, and computational activities modeling system dynamics -- we have observed that many science and engineering students in the introductory calculus-based course do not appear to be employing even simple formal deductive logic.   One of our studies focuses on modeling student deductive reasoning as a search through possibility space.  Another study focuses on designing tasks to keep students focused on a model rather than intuitive guessing, by asking them to predict the behavior of an incomplete model.  Understanding how students actually approach model-based deduction can inform the design of instruction in this and future courses (especially relativity and quantum mechanics) that rely heavily on students' ability to reason formally and their confidence in the results of such reasoning.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Ruth Chabay
North Carolina State University
515 E. Coronado Road
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Phone: 5056038144
and Co-Presenter(s)
Jonathan D.H. Gaffney, University of Kentucky;
Shawn Weatherford, Saint Leo University