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Abstract Title: Students Use of Diagrammatic Representations as Sense-making Tools
Abstract: The provision of diagrammatic representations, which accompany the models to which students are introduced, is a common form of scaffolding used in our reformed, collaborative, interactive introductory physics course. Use of these representational tools encourages a systematic application of physical principles and provides guidance to help students formalize their problem solving approach. This paper is a case study report on three classroom examples showing how students who have been introduced to such a tool, work collaboratively and engage in sense-making dialogue to formulate responses to questions regarding specific phenomena using conservation of energy principles. Analysis of small-group discourse, whole class discussions and student blackboard illustrations deepens our understanding of the process students go through to make sense and meaning for themselves when using these diagrammatic representations as tools. Our analysis illustrates how these students, with adequate practice, use the diagrammatic representation to attain higher levels of integrated reasoning.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Antoinette Stone
Department of Physics, University of California, Davis
1 Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
Phone: 8313255359
Co-Author(s)
and Co-Presenter(s)
Wendell Potter, Dept. of Physics, University of California, Davis
David Webb, Dept of Physics, University of California, Davis