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Abstract Title: "Nothing works the first time": An experimental physics epistemology
Abstract: The ability to troubleshoot is an important learning outcome for undergraduate physics laboratory courses. To better understand the role of troubleshooting in Electronics laboratory courses, we interviewed 20 Electronics instructors from multiple institution types about their beliefs and teaching practices related to troubleshooting. In these interviews, instructors articulated the idea that "nothing works the first" in multiple contexts pertaining to troubleshooting. We show how this idea informs instructors' perceptions of (1) the importance of developing students' ability to troubleshoot, (2) what it means for students to be proficient troubleshooters, and (3) the need (or lack thereof) to specifically design laboratory activities that engage students in the troubleshooting process. Moreover, we argue that this idea is connected to an experimental physics epistemology: newly built experimental systems do not initially function as expected, i.e., "nothing works the first time." We discuss implications for instruction and assessment of troubleshooting in Electronics courses.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Dimitri R. Dounas-Frazer
Department of Physics, University of Colorado Boulder
Department of Physics UCB 390
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80304-0390
Phone: 303-862-0337
and Co-Presenter(s)
H. J. Lewandowski
Department of Physics, University of Colorado Boulder