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Abstract Title: Understanding dynamic ontologies using conceptual blending: A case of student reasoning about photons
Abstract: Learning quantum mechanics requires students to develop not only new mathematical skills but also new ways of thinking about foundational concepts. Towards this instructional goal, we seek to unpack the nuanced and dynamic nature of student ontologies. We examine video data from a focus group of students enrolled in our transformed Modern Physics for Engineers course at the University of Colorado Boulder that explicitly addresses interpretation of quantum phenomena. We analyze a student discussion about the nature of photons using the conceptual blending framework of Fauconnier and Turner (2002). We find that in the discussion, classical ontologies of particles and waves act as input spaces from which a new blended space of "photon" emerges; this blend incorporates the transfer of some particle and wave properties to a new entity. When elaborating on these blended concepts, the students engage in metacognitive thinking as they negotiate the emergent meaning surrounding their ideas.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Jessica Hoy
Department of Physics, University of Colorado Boulder
and Co-Presenter(s)
Kathleen Hinko (Department of Physics, University of Colorado Boulder), Noah Finkelstein (Department of Physics, University of Colorado Boulder)

Contributed Poster

Contributed Poster: Download the Contributed Poster