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Similarities and Differences In Ideas Generated by Physics Learners: US College Students Vs. Tibetan Buddhist Monks Documents

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Similarities and Differences In Ideas Generated by Physics Learners: US College Students Vs. Tibetan Buddhist Monks 

written by Andy Johnson

We have used PER-based course materials to teach various physics topics to Tibetan Buddhist monks over the last four years.  While listening to the monks' ideas through interpreters, we found some striking similarities with ideas that we hear in our own classrooms in the US.  However, the degree of similarity of monks' ideas with those of US students varied with the topic. For example, ideas that emerged in the topic of magnetism were often consistent with western ideas while ideas about color addition were sometimes strikingly different from ideas that American students use.  The monks' ways of talking lead us to believe that cultural background partially determines how they think initially about particular physics topics.  This poster will give examples of similarities and of differences, and attempt to identify reasons for both.

Published October 20, 2008
Last Modified May 21, 2009

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