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Abstract Title: Challenges in developing effective scaffolding supports to help introductory students learn physics
Abstract: Helping students develop facility with problem representation is a major goal of many introductory physics courses. We discuss two studies related to representations in which we investigated strategies for improving students' performance on problem solving. In one study, we investigated students' difficulties in translating between mathematical and graphical representations and the effect of scaffolding on students' performance. Analysis of the student performance with different levels of scaffolding reveals that the appropriate level of scaffolding is not necessarily the one that involves lots of guidance and support from an expert's perspective and that the optimal level of support for a given student population can only be determined by research. In another study, we investigated whether students perform better when a diagram is provided with the problem or when they are explicitly asked to draw a diagram. We find that students who draw a good diagram perform better regardless of whether they use a diagrammatic approach to problem solving or mainly use a mathematical approach to problem solving. Instructional implications will be discussed.
Abstract Type: Symposium Poster
Targeted Session: Facilitating thinking and learning in physics classrooms

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Alex Maries
University of Pittsburgh
and Co-Presenter(s)
Chandralekha Singh, University of Pittsburgh

Invited Presentation

Invited Presentation: Download the Invited Presentation