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Abstract Title: Students' Reasoning about Interdisciplinarity
Abstract: We present case-study data of undergraduates describing the relationship between scientific disciplines.  Rather than viewing biology, chemistry, and physics as existing in disconnected silos, or as overlapping only in narrow regions of common interest, these students exhibit a range of nuanced views about disciplinary relationships.  Some students describe hierarchical arrangements that order the disciplines by degree of system complexity, or by the scale used to examine a particular system.   In other instances students want physics embedded in a context that positions its relationship to biology via analogy, or reference the way in which general physical principles like energy conservation or entropy maximization impose constraints on biological systems.  We examine evidence that students' conceptions are unstable and context-dependent, and describe how such conceptions may inform future course messaging and task design.   We argue that these case studies illustrate the varied resources that students posses for seeking coherence across disciplines.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Benjamin Geller
University of Maryland - College Park
8107 Eastern Ave.
Apt. D314
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: 717-497-0878
Co-Author(s)
and Co-Presenter(s)
Benjamin W. Dreyfus, Department of Physics, University of Maryland - College Park
Vashti Sawtelle, Department of Physics, University of Maryland - College Park
Chandra Turpen, Department of Physics, University of Maryland - College Park
Edward F. Redish, Department of Physics, University of Maryland - College Park

Contributed Poster

Contributed Poster: Download the Contributed Poster