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Abstract Title: Towards a Better Understanding of Confusion
Abstract: Physics instructors typically try to avoid confusing their students. However, the truism underlying this approach, "confusion is bad," has been challenged by educators dating as far back as Socrates, who asked students to question assumptions and wrestle with ideas. This begs the question: Are confused students lost, or does their confusion indicate more critical thinking than less-confused learners? In previous work, we focused on a single reading assignment, a snapshot. Insights from this work allowed us to refine and expand our study to over 40 snapshots that span two semesters of introductory physics, which involved Just-in-Time Teaching and research-based reading materials.  We evaluated performance on assignments while simultaneously asking students to self-assess their confusion over the material, and then probed whether "confused" students were correct more or less frequently than "not-confused" students. We highlight our results and draw some conclusions about confusion. Is it really as bad as it seems?
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Jason Dowd
Harvard University
17 Oxford Street
Physics Dept. - Harvard U.
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: 7733830088
Co-Author(s)
and Co-Presenter(s)
Ives S Araujo, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
Eric  Mazur, Harvard University