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Abstract Title: Framings of PhET manipulations: Investigating mechanism vs. confirming answers
Abstract: Our tutorial for the Gas Properties PhET tried to engage students in repeated cycles of (i) making a prediction using the ideal gas law about what would happen to the pressure of a gas during a given process such as an isothermal compression, (ii) investigating the microscopic mechanism of the physical process using the PhET, and finally (iii) reconciling the mathematical and microscopic stories.  Sometimes, observed interactions among students and between students and the simulation environment mediated by the tutorial worksheet were about Investigating Mechanism, attending to the motion of the molecules, particularly collisions, to describe bulk pressure and temperature changes in the gas.  In other moments, however, when addressing step (ii), observed interactions were about Confirmation, checking that the pressure increased or decreased as they mathematically predicted in step (i) but not attending to the molecular story. Our poster explores these framings of PhET use, our instructional response, and implications for other groups designing PhET-based tutorials.
Abstract Type: Symposium Poster
Parallel Session: Student learning with PhET simulations: Beyond conceptual gains in classroom settings

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Vijay Kaul
University of Maryland
and Co-Presenter(s)
Ayush Gupta and Andrew Elby