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Monday, March 1 • 12:35pm - 12:50pm
Talk Session 1: Leveraging dual-process theories to examine and support student reasoning in physics

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Co-authors: Mikayla N. Mays, University of Maine; J. Caleb Speirs, University of New England; Beth A. Lindsey, Penn State Greater Allegheny; and Mila Kryjevskaia, North Dakota State University

For over 30 years, research-based materials developed by the physics education research community have helped transform introductory physics instruction. Many of these materials focus on the development of student conceptual understanding and place considerable emphasis on qualitative inferential reasoning. An emerging body of research, however, suggests that poor student performance on certain physics tasks—even after research-based instruction—may stem more from the nature of student reasoning itself than from specific conceptual difficulties. Analysis of student reasoning patterns through the lens of dual-process theories of reasoning (DPToR) suggests that students may struggle to engage analytical processing productively when responding to a physics question that contains salient distracting features. As part of a larger, multi-institutional effort to examine and support student reasoning in physics by leveraging DPToR, we have developed and implemented reasoning chain construction tasks in which students are provided with correct reasoning elements (i.e., true statements about the physical situation as well as correct concepts and mathematical relationships) and are asked to assemble them into an argument in order to answer a physics question. In this talk, we will present results from DPToR-aligned interventions that incorporate these “chaining” tasks, discuss insights into the role that the nature of human reasoning may play when working on physics questions, and reflect on implications for research-based curriculum development in STEM more broadly.

*This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. DUE-1821390, DUE-1821123, DUE-1821400, DUE-1821511, DUE- 1821561, DUE-1431940, DUE-1431541, DUE-1431857, DUE-1432052, and DUE-1432765.

avatar for MacKenzie Stetzer

MacKenzie Stetzer

Associate Professor of Physics, University of Maine
I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Maine and a member of the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education.  Much of my research in physics education focuses on student reasoning and metacognition in physics – particularly... Read More →

Monday March 1, 2021 12:35pm - 12:50pm CST