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Abstract Title: Exploring science and engineering students’ guiding epistemologies when addressing first law problems across disciplinary contexts
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Abstract: The Next Generation Science Standards outlines the "crosscutting concepts" as the common tools and lenses adopted across the disciplines of STEM. Little work has been conducted on crosscutting concepts to date. To address this gap, a qualitative research study was undertaken to assess the effects of discipline-specific instruction on students' conceptualization of energy and matter within introductory science and engineering coursework. The first law of thermodynamics served as the primary topic given its crucial role as a guiding principle for energy and matter. Three first law problems were developed that each incorporated field-specific systems, language, and notation. The dynamic transfer framework served as the methodological and theoretical basis for the study. Interview questions monitored the epistemological frames adopted by students to solve the problem and the target tools students read out to "know with." Physics, chemistry, and engineering students were recruited from majors' courses that each served to introduce the first law of thermodynamics. Participants were tasked with solving one in-discipline and one out-of-discipline interview problem. Physics and engineering students were generally shown to apply a physical mapping epistemological frame by reading out the first law as an equation, while chemistry students more commonly read out an inferred energetic process to reason about changes in internal energy. However, physics and engineering students differed in the application of the physical mapping frame. Physics students uniquely demonstrated the ability to modify equations based upon read out systems and language, while engineering students tended to map problem features directly onto the provided equations through a perceived arithmetical approach. These findings shed light on how different disciplines within STEM conceptualize first law problems and energy and matter concepts to bridge across disciplinary boundaries.
Session Time: Poster Session 2
Poster Number: II-7

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Alexander P. Parobek
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN 47906
Phone: 2194550066
and Co-Presenter(s)
Patrick M. Chaffin (He/Him/His), Purdue University
Marcy H. Towns (She/Her/Hers), Purdue University