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Comparing Mechanistic Reasoning in Open and Guided Inquiry Physics Activities Documents

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Comparing Mechanistic Reasoning in Open and Guided Inquiry Physics Activities 

written by Rosemary Wulf, Kathleen Hinko, and Noah D. Finkelstein

Inquiry activities can provide students with the chance to experiment and to externalize their reasoning. To examine the impacts of level of guidance in inquiry-based activities on students' mechanistic reasoning, we analyze middle school students' scientific notebooks from an afterschool program by applying a coding scheme that is modified from Russ (Russ, R. et al.. (2008). Sci. Ed., 92: 499–525.). We compare students' mechanistic reasoning in two inquiry physics curricula, one that is guided and another that is more open-ended inquiry. We find that students exhibit more types and more overall mechanistic reasoning in the open curriculum. We also code the curricula and find that students have more opportunities to practice mechanistic reasoning in the open-ended curriculum. We examine why students take the opportunities provided to them in both curricula and the implications for both informal and formal curriculum design.

Published February 1, 2014
Last Modified January 31, 2014

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