University of Maryland – College Park
candidate for the Physical Sciences Partnership Post-Doctoral Research Associate position
Thursday, June 13
Location: Hill Auditorium, 165 Barrows Hall
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
“A role for conceptual understanding of equations in problem solving”
Research in expert problem-solving practice in physics has pointed out the important role of well-structured conceptual knowledge and initial conceptual analyses. Yet, these conceptualizations of problem-solving expertise do not attend to possible benefits of a conceptual understanding of the equations. In this talk, I will give an example of how use of symbolic forms (Sherin, 2001), cognitive elements that blend intuitive understanding with mathematical symbols, can support heuristic shortcut solutions that avoid explicit algorithmic computations and demonstrate problem-solving expertise. I also argue that symbolic forms use is connected to epistemological stances – views towards what it means to learn and understand – that value coherence between everyday thinking and formal physics ideas. Drawing from this study and one other, I suggest that this connection between mathematical reasoning and students’ epistemologies has implications for interdisciplinary education and for considering what factors support transfer of knowledge across disciplines.
Bio: Eric Kuo graduated Summa Cum Laude from Brandeis University with a B.S. in Physics and a B.A. in Mathematics in December of 2007. He went on to receive his M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Maryland, College Park. In that time, he has been a researcher and a graduate research assistant, designing research agenda and co-designing a curriculum targeted at mathematical sense-making in physics, winning a grant for this research in 2010.
Faculty, students, and staff are invited to attend this presentation,
and to partake in a light luncheon.