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Fall 2009 - Michael Wittmann – Dec. 7

Center for Science and Mathematics Education Research
Colloquia & Seminar Series


Michael Wittmann
Associate Professor of Physics
& Cooperating Associate Professor in Education

Describing students’ short time-scale responses as they construct new ideas in unfamiliar situations in physics

We often talk about the physics concepts students must learn, their misconceptions when they make mistakes, and the resources they activate when they use intuitions to guide their reasoning – these are pre-existing ideas to be learned, understood better, or activated, respectively. Complementing this perspective, we might also consider responses created dynamically, in immediate response to a question. In this talk, I use gesture and language to look at what students are doing while solving a problem in wave physics. I present the physical scenario of a wavepulse traveling on a long taut spring, and provide examples of the most common student responses. I suggest that student gestures provide a guide for understanding their responses, and that moments when there are shifts in both language and gesture use indicate the construction of emergent ideas.

Monday, December 7, 2009
3:00 pm
165 Barrows Hall, Hill Auditorium


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