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Abstract Title: What Do We Really Mean By That Word? Identifying Skills in the Work of Categorizing and Defining
Abstract: An important part of doing research is crafting useful definitions for one's particular purposes.  Scientists need to be able to identify vague or unscientific terms and meanings and refine them into clearly articulated ideas.  This work is not done in isolation, but rather, members of the community must come together to decide on mutually agreed upon definitions.  But how are words defined and mutual understanding achieved?  What skills do physics students already have along these lines and what new skills must be supported?  And how does language itself support and constrain this work?  This talk will focus on a study of undergraduate physics majors where small groups of 3-4 students are asked to categorize and define the physical phenomenon of threshold in an open-ended design task.  We will present on skills we have identified as important to making definitions and discuss ways that language plays an important role in this process.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Angela Little
University of California, Berkeley