home - login - register

PERC 2016 Abstract Detail Page

Previous Page  |  New Search  |  Browse All

Abstract Title: Articulating Problems
Abstract: "The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old questions from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science." (Einstein & Infield, 1938)
We present results from a project, The dynamics of learners' engagement and persistence in science, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (#3475). In this work, we first identify exemplars of students' doing science, working with a team of scientists to vet candidate episodes from existing data as well as new data collected in undergraduate courses. We then analyze each case, to understand what we can of its particular dynamics. Finally, we look across the cases for patterns. In this presentation, we discuss one finding: Six of the nine cases involve students working to articulate and motivate problems, where by "problem," we mean an inconsistency or gap in understanding. This work of problematizing, we contend, reflects disciplinary practices in science: Doing science involves having and expressing uncertainty and confusion, and working within realms of uncertainty to pin down what, precisely, is not understood. We argue for valuing students' attempts at articulating a problem as scientific activity, and the articulation of a problem as a scientific achievement in its own right. Drawing on our analysis, we present responsive teaching moves and strategies that can support students' problematizing.
Abstract Type: Symposium Talk
Parallel Session: Iteration, Ownership, and Emotions: Examining How Classroom Experiences in Physics Move Outside the Classroom

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Anna Phillips
Tufts University
and Co-Presenter(s)
Jessica Watkins, Tufts University
David Hammer, Tufts University