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Abstract Title: The use of epistemic distancing to create a safe space to sensemake in introductory physics tutorials
Abstract: In active engagement physics classrooms, students get opportunities to make sense of physics together through discussion. They do not always take up these opportunities, in part because of the risk of sharing their ideas and having them rejected by their classmates or the instructors. In this case study, I analyze videotaped discourse of a tutorial group's early discussions to investigate how students manage these risks in creating a safe space to sensemake. I find that the students and instructors alike rely on a common discursive resource – epistemic distancing – to share their ideas while protecting themselves affectively if others disagree. Epistemic distancing includes hedging, joking, deferring, and other discourse moves used to soften one's stance in conversation. I use video analysis to illustrate the effects of these moves on one tutorial group's initial sensemaking discussions. I then discuss implications for instructors wishing to encourage sensemaking discussions in their physics classrooms.
Abstract Type: Juried Talk
Parallel Session: Juried Talks II

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Luke Conlin
Salem State University