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Abstract Title: Adopting Theories and Methods from Outside PER
Abstract: PER has grown by drawing on theories and methods in cognitive science, psychology, sociology, and other fields outside of physics. PER has assembled these various perspectives into its own approaches to education research. In this session, presenters will describe their recent efforts to bring new approaches from outside of PER to their work. While varied in content, these efforts will converge along several themes: the scope, power, and limitations of these new-to-PER perspectives, as well as alignment between theory and methods. Presenters will discuss the process of adopting outside theories and methods to PER specific research problems. Participants can gain insight into the specific theories and methods used by presenters. Following the conference theme, we also hope to present a general case for how PER can benefit and grow by following its own tradition of looking outside itself.
Abstract Type: Poster Symposium

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Noah Solomon Podolefsky
Univ of Colorado
Campus Box 390
Boulder, CO 80309
Phone: 3036418217
and Co-Presenter(s)
Katherine K. Perkins

Symposium Specific Information

Discussant: Noah Podolefsky
Moderator: Noah Podolefsky
Presentation 1 Title: Implicit Scaffolding: Blending Vygotsky with Human Computer Interaction
Presentation 1 Authors: Noah Podolefsky, Katherine K. Perkins
Presentation 1 Abstract: Computer simulations are increasingly popular teaching and learning tools among physics educators. In this poster, we present implicit scaffolding, a theoretical framework that underlies the design of PhET simulations. This framework is based on the tool-mediated learning theory of Vygotsky and the affordance-constraint theory of Norman, a pioneer in human-computer interaction. While developed in the context of computer simulations, implicit scaffolding also lends itself well to non-computer-based learning tools, such as lab equipment or textbooks. We will demonstrate the use of implicit scaffolding with cases of middle school students building circuits using both a simulation and real equipment. 6th grade students were readily able to build working circuits using both the simulator and real equipment with little to no instructions. Our central claim is that learning tools designed according to implicit scaffolding can "guide without students feeling guided," allowing students to feel a heightened sense of ownership and agency.
Presentation 2 Title: Six Degrees: Social Network Analysis in PER
Presentation 2 Authors: Eric Brewe
Presentation 2 Abstract: We recount research questions and theoretical motivations that led us to adopt network analysis in understanding the formation of a learning community as an illustrative example of Social Network Analysis (SNA) as applied to PER.  Social Network Analysis (SNA) and the more general form, Network Analysis, are a set of representational and quantitative tools that can be used to identify patterns among complex, interconnected data. Thus the methodology is well suited seeking patterns among humans engaged in learning within a disciplinary context as we pursue in PER. Two recent papers in PRST-PER [1,2] reflect the flexibility of NA , drawing on different data types (transcripts and surveys), and addressed very different questions (community and epistemic development). While this methodology is well established in other fields, it remains in its infancy in PER; thus the limitations are not well known nor are the approaches clearly fruitful as applied to learning.

[1] E. Brewe, L. Kramer, and V. Sawtelle, "Investigating student communities with network analysis of interactions in a physics learning center," Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 8, (2012).
[2] M. Bodin, "Mapping university students' epistemic framing of computational physics using network analysis," Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 8, 010115 (2012).
Presentation 3 Title: Promoting proximal formative assessment with relational discourse
Presentation 3 Authors: Rachel Scherr, Hunter G. Close, Sarah B. McKagan
Presentation 3 Abstract: The practice of proximal formative assessment – the continual, responsive attention to students' developing understanding as it is expressed in real time – depends on students' sharing their ideas with instructors and on teachers' attending to them. Rogerian psychology presents an account of the conditions under which proximal formative assessment may be promoted or inhibited: (1) Normal classroom conditions, characterized by evaluation and attention to learning targets, may present threats to students' sense of their own competence and value, causing them to conceal their ideas and reducing the potential for proximal formative assessment. (2) In contrast, discourse patterns characterized by positive anticipation and attention to learner ideas increase the potential for proximal formative assessment and promote self-directed learning. We present an analysis methodology based on these principles and demonstrate its utility for understanding episodes of university physics instruction
Presentation 4 Title: Using Activity Theory to Understand Technology in the Classroom
Presentation 4 Authors: Edward Price
Presentation 4 Abstract: Research-based innovations in physics education often restructure social interactions in the classroom and introduce new tools. Assessments such as pre-post testing can provide an overall evaluation of these changes, but do not provide insight into the process by which they are enacted. Activity theory provides a framework for understanding the complex classroom situation through structured attention to roles, rules or norms, community, and tools. Activity theory is particular useful in diagnosing failure modes and understanding unexpected outcomes. I will describe how activity theory can be used to understand efforts to support interactive pedagogy with technologies such as digital cameras, photo sharing websites, and in-class videos of experiments. I will characterize the circumstances under which innovations in pedagogy and technology support each other, leading to results that would not have been possible with either alone.
Presentation 5 Title: Modeling Middle Student Learning with Cognitive Developmental Psychology
Presentation 5 Authors: Nicole Hallinen
Presentation 5 Abstract: Cognitive developmental psychology often seeks to describe students' qualitative understanding of physical phenomena.  In turn, educators can use this research to improve instruction.  Siegler (1981) developed the "rule assessment" model for characterizing children's development of multi-factor reasoning.  By conceptualizing a multi-factor domain as a phenomenon comprised of dominant and subordinate factors, this model analyzes students' responses to discern whether their thinking appropriately includes neither factor, only one factor, or the relationship between both factors.  Students' rule levels can then be used in future analyses.  Here, we provide several examples and a demonstration of how we have used this method with middle-school students who learned about torque, projectile motion, and collisions using different instructional methods around simulations.  We show how the technique helps characterize various levels of qualitative reasoning, how these relate to quantitative reasoning, and how the method helps pinpoint the factors students attend to in their reasoning.