Research as a Guide for Examining Inconsistencies in Student Reasoning in Physics

Thursday, October 16, 2014: 11:00 AM
LACC 408A (Los Angeles Convention Center)
Mila Kryjevskaia, PhD , Physics, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND
It can be argued that the development of reasoning abilities is possibly the most important outcome of college physics instruction, as these abilities extend to all Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines and are important to many non-STEM professions as well.  In this presentation we will discuss approaches taken by physics education researchers who investigate student reasoning in physics.  We will focus on a particularly puzzling phenomenon observed in introductory physics courses: some students use correct ideas and reasoning in order to solve a specific physics problem, but often fail to do so on other, closely related problems.  In many cases students who provide incorrect solutions do possess the knowledge and skills necessary to solve the problems correctly.  However, instead of applying the appropriate knowledge and skills, some students tend to rely on intuitive ideas that lead to incorrect conclusions.  We will discuss research methods that allow researchers to disentangle student conceptual understanding and reasoning approaches through the use of sequences of related questions.  We will also discuss opportunities for research related to student reasoning in physics.