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Abstract Title: The impact of students’ epistemological framing on a task requiring representational consistency*
Abstract: The ability to flexibly transform between different representations (e.g., from mathematical to graphical representations) of the same concept is a hallmark of expertise. This ability is often lacking in many introductory students as evidenced by the lack of consistency in students' representations (i.e., students construct two representations for the same concept in the same situation that are not consistent with one another). In this study, we asked students to construct two representations for the electric field for a situation involving spherical symmetry (charged conducting sphere surrounded by charged conducting spherical shell). This type of problem has been found to result in many students constructing representations that are not consistent with one another. Here, we present findings from individual interviews with students which suggest that students' lack of consistency may partly be attributed to the type of knowledge that the graphical and mathematical contexts trigger. Using the epistemic games framework terminology, the two representations students are asked to construct (mathematical vs. graphical) may lead them to play two different epistemic games. We discuss how students' epistemological framing may contribute to their lack of representational consistency.

*Work supported by the National Science Foundation
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Alexandru Maries
University of Cincinnati
and Co-Presenter(s)
Chandralekha Singh, University of Pittsburgh