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Mapping university students’ epistemic framing of computational physics using network analysis
written by Madelen Bodin
Solving physics problem in university physics education using a computational approach requires knowledge and skills in several domains, for example, physics, mathematics, programming, and modeling. These competences are in turn related to students' beliefs about the domains as well as about learning. These knowledge and beliefs components are referred to here as epistemic elements, which together represent the students' epistemic framing of the situation. The purpose of this study was to investigate university physics students' epistemic framing when solving and visualizing a physics problem using a particle-spring model system. Students' epistemic framings are analyzed before and after the task using a network analysis approach on interview transcripts, producing visual representations as epistemic networks. The results show that students change their epistemic framing from a modeling task, with expectancies about learning programming, to a physics task, in which they are challenged to use physics principles and conservation laws in order to troubleshoot and understand their simulations. This implies that the task, even though it is not introducing any new physics, helps the students to develop a more coherent view of the importance of using physics principles in problem solving. The network analysis method used in this study is shown to give intelligible representations of the students' epistemic framing and is proposed as a useful method of analysis of textual data.
Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research: Volume 8, Issue 1, Pages 010115
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Published: April 10, 2012
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