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Physics Education Research Conference 2013 Invited Talks


Affect not as an afterthought: Coupling content and social-psychological aspects in physics learning   -   Talk

Noah D. Finkelstein, University of Colorado-Boulder

4:30 PM - 6:00 PM on Wednesday, Jul 17, 2013
Grand Ballroom I

Learning is a matter of socialization. As such, we can build on efforts over the last couple of decades to further expand the goals of physics teaching and learning beyond the historic measures of content mastery.  We are now poised to examine how social and psychological domains impact and are impacted by the traditional content we so dearly love.  Drawing from a theoretical tradition that takes play seriously, I explore a few environments where play and 'messing about' simultaneously develop student affect and content mastery. At CU we are involved in: research documenting the engagement of youth in science to promote identity and content mastery; studies linking psychological effects to student performance and retention in college physics; and, investigations of the impacts of advanced undergraduate and graduate experiences that encourage productive messing about as scientists. These studies challenge the historical divides between formal / informal, content/form, and content/ affect.

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Having the Journey: Physics Education and Transformative Experiences   -   Talk

Kevin Pugh, University of Northern Colorado

4:30 PM - 6:00 PM on Wednesday, Jul 17, 2013
Grand Ballroom I

John Dewey argued that the curriculum should be a guide and not a substitute for having our own journey with the content. I agree and believe the purpose of science education should be to transform the way we see and experience the world, an outcome I refer to as a transformative experience. In this talk, I explain the nature of transformative experiences and present a model of fostering transformative experiences in science. This model has roots in Dewey's theory of aesthetic experience and was refined through design-based research. Instructional principles central to the model include: (1) artistically selecting and crafting content, (2) scaffolding re-seeing, and (3) modeling transformative experiences.

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From Cognitive Science to Physics Education and Back   -   Talk

Sian L. Beilock, University of Chicago

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM on Wednesday, Jul 17, 2013
Pavillion East/West

Principles of learning and performance derived from research in cognitive science can inform how physics is taught and how learning is assessed. At the same time, common practices in physics education can be used to develop better cognitive principles of student learning and understanding. This talk will focus on three main themes. First, I will explore how basic principles of  learning can be used to develop optimal labs in physics education settings.

Second, I will discuss how we can use psychology and neuroscience research regarding how academic anxiety alters thinking and reasoning to develop assessments that accurately gauge what students know. Finally, I will end by discussing how, together, PER and cognitive science can be used to help students perform at their best when it matters most.

Sian Beilock is a Professor of Psychology and The Committee on Education at the University of Chicago and author of "Choke: What The Secrets Of The Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To." http://sianbeilock.com/

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From theory to practice: The lengthy way of affect into classrooms and practices   -   Talk

Marja-Liisa Hassi, University of Helsinki

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM on Thursday, Jul 18, 2013

Important studies on affect in mathematics education date back to the early 1970s. Interest on affective issues has continued ever since and also education psychologists have paid serious attention to emotions in learning mathematics. However, transfer of this knowledge to mathematics classrooms, student learning, and teaching practices is still a big challenge. In this presentation I'll shortly highlight the history and scope of research on affect in mathematics education. After this overview, I'll introduce the role of affect in students' interpretations, experiences and learning processes with a specific focus on their self-perceptions and self-regulatory activity in learning and performing. This theoretical approach will be followed by research results of students' affective experiences and gains based on a multi-institution, mixed-method study in college mathematics classes applying active, student-centered instructional methods and set in contrast with the experiences and gains from traditional, lecture-based mathematics classes. Finally, I will briefly discuss implications for classroom practices and social classroom climate.

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Integrating emotions into fine-grained accounts of students' reasoning   -   Talk

Ayush Gupta, Physics Education Research Group (UMD)

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM on Thursday, Jul 18, 2013

Many prominent lines of research on student's reasoning and conceptual change within learning sciences and physics education research have not attended to the role of learners' affect or emotions in the dynamics of their conceptual reasoning. This is despite evidence that emotions are deeply integrated with cognition and documented associations between emotions and academic performance. In this presentation, I will present the case for a research program aimed at integrating affect with models of learners' cognition. I will present a case-study to argue that in physics learning environments learners' emotions can be intertwined with the unfolding conceptual and epistemological reasoning at fine time-scales. This case-study draws on video-taped interactions of a small group of students working on a physics tutorial. The analysis of the conceptual and epistemological substance of students' talk and the associated emotions draws on a combination of methodologies from knowledge analysis, interaction analysis, and conversation analysis traditions. I will also briefly discuss some of the current research on learners' affect being pursued within the PER community. I will end with implications for research, curriculum development, and teaching.