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Unformatted text preview: ly pouring additional facts on them may actually deter learning.
To move a student toward expert competence, the instructor must focus on the development of the student’s
mental organizational structure by addressing the “why”
and not just the “what” of the subject. These mental structures are a new element of a student’s thinking. As such,
they must be constructed on the foundation of students’
prior thinking and experience.5,12 This prior thinking may
be wrong or incorrectly applied, and hence must be explicitly examined and adequately addressed before further
progress is possible. The physics education research literature can help instructors recognize and deal with particular widespread and deeply ingrained misconceptions.3,4
In summary, expert competence is likely to develop only if
the student is actively thinking and the instructor can
suitably monitor and guide that thinking.
Our final example of useful research concerns students’ beliefs. Students’ beliefs about physics and how it is
http://www.physicstoday.org learned are important.1,11 They affect motivation, approaches to learning and problem solving, and, not surprisingly, choice of major. As we noted earlier, teaching
practices influence students’ beliefs, usually by making
them more novice-like. Presenting mechanics in terms of
general concepts and the motion of abstract items such as
blocks on frictionless ramps can inadvertently teach many
students that these principles do not apply to real-world
objects. Assigning problems that are graded strictly on a
final number, or that can be done by plugging the correct
numbers into a given procedure or formula, can teach students that solving physics problems is only about memorization and coming up with a correct number—reasoning
and seeing if the answer makes sense are irrelevant. The
good news is that courses with rather modest changes to
explicitly address student beliefs have avoided the usual
negative shifts.11 Those changes include introducing the
physics ideas in terms of real-world situations or devices
with which the students are familiar; recasting homework
and exam problems into a form in which the answer is of
some obvious utility rather than an abstract number; and
making reasoning, sense-making, and reflecting explicit
parts of in-class activities, homework, and exams. New educational technology
Utilizing principles established by educational research
can greatly improve physics education. Technology can
make it easier to incorporate these principles into instruction. For example, online surveys and student–
faculty e-mail are rather simple ways to enhance communication, thereby helping faculty understand and better
guide student thinking. Here we will discuss a couple of
more novel technologies—personal electronic response
systems and interactive simulations. These technologies
are relatively simple and inexpensive, and we have found
them to be pedagogically powerful and easy to incorporate
into the standard curriculum.
A variety of commercial ve...
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This note was uploaded on 12/20/2011 for the course PHYS 208 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '08 term at University of Delaware.
- Fall '08