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Abstract Title: When students are in an indeterminate state: Valuing the messiness of students' ontological reasoning in quantum mechanics
Abstract: Student reasoning in physics can be messy, and this messiness ought be valued because, in part, it can lead to students having wonderful ideas.  Messiness of student reasoning takes many forms; here we consider the messiness of ontological structures (categorical organization of entities, such as "photon" or "electron"). We present a framework to describe the dynamics of ontologies. In a Modern Physics course environment, we demonstrate students' flexible use of ontologies in multiple contexts and show how the messiness of reasoning structures can be valuable for student learning. Finally, we identify pedagogical and curricular cues that may or may not invoke certain patterns of use of ontological structures. In so doing, we seek to move beyond the "get it or don't get it" view of student learning and focus instead on valuing and supporting the messiness and tentative nature of students' reasoning, or the having of wonderful ideas.
Abstract Type: Juried Talk
Parallel Session: Juried Talks II
Parallel Session: Parallel Sessions Cluster III

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: J.R. Hoehn
University of Colorado, Boulder
and Co-Presenter(s)
N.D. Finkelstein