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Fall 2009 - Brian Frank – Nov. 2

Center for Science and Mathematics Education Research
Colloquia & Seminar Series


Brian Frank
Post-Doctoral Associate
Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, University of Maine

Conceptualizing Student Thinking as Local Stabilities

The substance of student thinking is one of many broad orientations in physics education research, both in terms of basic research and instructional reform. In this talk, I motivate a fresh look at research on student thinking by leveraging an emerging perspective in child development. Dynamic systems approaches in developmental research have uncovered rich phenomena of human behavior, emphasizing variability, non-linearity, and emergence as central themes. I discuss how these same themes characterize much of the corpus of empirical data on student thinking in physics, and suggest generative avenues for future research based on conceptualizations of student thinking in terms of local stabilities.  Throughout this discussion, I touch upon various experimental and observational studies of student thinking conducted at the University of Maryland and elsewhere that illustrate the beginnings of such an approach in physics education.

Monday, Nov. 2, 2009
3:00 pm
Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium
Room 165, Engineering and Science Research Building


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