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Abstract Title: Teachers' awareness of aspects of experimental design: the case of multimeters
Abstract: In recent years, multiple reforms have been suggested in the instructional physics lab to leverage students' agency in a range of experimental practices. Granting students' agency over experimental design is a particularly persistent challenge, due to powerful structural features such as verifying that the apparatus is "operator proof" and that the students can obtain the expected measurements in a limited amount of time. As a result, labs often include pre-prepared lab "kits" and detailed step-by-step instructions, thus effectively undermining students' engagement in experimental design.
We examined teachers' awareness of design considerations in the context of an activity problematizing the role of multimeters when measuring the relationship between the current through a battery and its terminal voltage. The activity took place in a national network of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) for high-school physics teachers (11 nationwide year-long regional PLCs; N ? 300 physics teachers, a broad spectrum of socioeconomic backgrounds, representing about a quarter of the national workforce, operating in the high-stakes context of a national matriculation exam). The dataset was composed of 100 individual responses to a questionnaire administered at the beginning of the activity. Later stages consisted of small group and plenum discussions, as well as reflections at the end of the activity.
The findings indicate that at the beginning of the activity, most of the teachers were not able to articulate many key design considerations, such as how choices related to the location of the multimeters and the measurement scale impacted the precision and range of measurements and the control of variables.
The teachers were highly engaged in the follow-up components of the activity and enthusiastic about its contribution to raising awareness of considerations in experimental design.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session 1 Room B
Poster Number: 1B-18

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Adi Noga
Weizmann Institute of Science
and Co-Presenter(s)
Smadar Levy
Edit Yerushalmi
Weizmann Institute of Science