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Abstract Title: Broadening Our Lens: Socio-Cultural Perspectives in PER (Part I: Artifacts and Mediation)
Abstract: Research in physics education has conducted significant work at understanding student ideas and applying such understanding to the design of curricular reforms and evaluation instruments.  Studies of classroom practices are beginning to appear more frequently and suggest that we, as a community, may benefit from a broader theoretical lens.  This session focuses on applications of socio-cultural theories to education research in physics and physics teacher preparation.  It includes studies that examine: introductory college classrooms and after-school programs as cultural systems, building a learning community related to becoming and being a physics teacher, educational tools as mediating artifacts in student learning and engagement, and the creation of contexts supportive of all students in learning physics. n Part 1 of this session, we will focus on the role of tools and curricula as mediating artifacts in student learning.
Abstract Type: Targeted Poster Session

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Noah Finkelstein
University of Colorado at Boulder
2000 Colorado Ave
Boulder, CO 8030
Phone: 303 735 6082
Fax: 303 492 3352
and Co-Presenter(s)
Chandra Turpen
University of Colorado at Boulder

Targeted Poster Session Specific Information

Poster 1 Title: Introduction to the Sessions
Poster 1 Authors: Noah D. Finkelstein and  Chandra Turpen
University of Colorado
Poster 1 Abstract: These two sessions, while coupled, can stand individually.  Following each set of posters we will hold a discussion focussing on the particular theme of that session.  While poster presentations listed here will be presented during the allocated slots, all 7 posters (from the two sessions) will be available for each session.
Poster 2 Title: Computer simulations to classrooms: Cultural tools for learning physics
Poster 2 Authors: Noah Podolefsky
University of Colorado
Poster 2 Abstract: The PhET computer simulations (sims) have been demonstrated as successful tools for teaching and learning physics. In this poster we situate PhET sims in a socio-cultural-historical context, focusing on the Wave Interference sim as an example. Sims are cultural tools designed to embody certain norms and practices of the physics community, particularly learning through exploration. This poster focuses on the interaction between three scales of cultural tools: representations (graphs, pictures, etc.), learning tools (sims), and learning environments. Sims can strongly influence the nature of student engagement in the classroom, but they are not magic pills. Classroom environments can drive certain types of activity, but we are not fated to recapitulate traditional educational practices. We will examine critical features of tools across these three scales which support student learning through engaged exploration.
Poster 3 Title: How tools shape classroom practices and collaboration: Examples from introductory physics classes using Tablet PCs
Poster 3 Authors: Edward Price, Charles De Leone, and Clarisa Bercovich-Guelman
California State University, San Marcos
Poster 3 Abstract: Technological tools are widely used in physics education. Many researchers have examined student learning gains associated with activities utilizing technology. Less attention has been given to the role of tools in shaping classroom practices and student interactions. By emphasizing the mediating role tools play, activity theory is ideally suited for examining the impact of tools on classroom culture. This poster uses activity theory to explore two examples where Tablet PCs were used in introductory physics classes. In one example, every student used a Tablet PC to collaborate in small groups during a laboratory course. In a second example, groups of students in an active learning-based course used one Tablet PCs for group work, which the instructor projected during whole class discussions. Use of the Tablet PCs is identified with changes in the nature of student collaboration and in the classroom practices required to support desired class norms.
Poster 4 Title: Evolution of Socio-Cultural Perspectives in My Research
Poster 4 Authors: Valerie Otero
University of Colorado
Poster 4 Abstract: Over the past 10 years I have been using socio-cultural theoretical perspectives to understand how people learn physics in a highly interactive, inquiry-based physics course such as Physics and Everyday Thinking. As a result of using various perspectives (e.g. Distributed Cognition and Vygotsky's Theory of Concept Formation), my understanding of how these perspectives can be useful for investigating students' learning processes has changed. I will illustrate changes in my thinking about the role of socio-cultural perspectives in understanding physics learning and describe elements of my thinking that have remained stable.  Finally, I will discuss pitfalls in the use of certain perspectives and discuss areas that need attention in theoretical development for PER.