ssrn-id1151430 - Learning from Physics Education Research:...

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Electronic copy available at: Maier and Simkins, Learning from Physics Education Research , June 2008 1 Learning from Physics Education Research: Lessons for Economics Education Mark Maier* and Scott Simkins** * Glendale Community College Economics Department, Glendale, CA 91208, ** North Carolina A&T State University Academy for Teaching and Learning, 313 Dowdy Building, Greensboro, NC 27411 Abstract. We believe that economists have much to learn from educational research practices and related pedagogical innovations in other disciplines, in particular physics education. In this paper we identify three key features of physics education research that distinguish it from economics education research – (1) the intentional grounding of physics education research in learning science principles, (2) a shared conceptual research framework focused on how students learn physics concepts, and (3) a cumulative process of knowledge-building in the discipline – and describe their influence on new teaching pedagogies, instructional activities, and curricular design in physics education. In addition, we highlight four specific examples of successful pedagogical innovations drawn from physics education – context- rich problems, concept tests, just-in-time teaching, and interactive lecture demonstrations – and illustrate how these practices can be adapted for economic education. Keywords: economic education, physics education research (PER), research-based teaching, preconceptions, metacognition, transfer, context-rich problems, peer instruction, just-in-time teaching, interactive lecture demonstration JEL Categories : A2 – Economics Education and Teaching of Economics Note. The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the National Science Foundation (DUE #04-11037 ). An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Southern Economic Association Annual Meeting in November 2006 I. INTRODUCTION In his comprehensive review of the evidence on teaching economics to undergraduates, William Becker (1997) noted that “economists are noticeably absent” from cross-disciplinary discussions focused on advancing teaching. Further, Becker suggested that while “much of the rest of higher education implements new approaches to teaching, traditional economists may be stuck in the rut of doing to undergraduates what their instructors did to them.” (pp. 1353-54) More than a decade later, economists’ involvement in cross-disciplinary dialogue and research on pedagogical inquiry and innovation is little changed, limiting economists’ potential for developing effective teaching practices aimed at improving student learning. However, we believe that there is much to learn
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ssrn-id1151430 - Learning from Physics Education Research:...

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