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Abstract Title: Examining how classroom communities transform a student’s uncertainty to engage in scientific sense-making
Abstract: When we think of students' wonderful ideas, we should include their wonderful uncertainties, their sense of unease around gaps or inconsistencies in understanding phenomena. A growing body of literature demonstrates the different ways in which students' uncertainties can promote collaborative sense-making and situate the development of scientific accounts, practices, and epistemologies (Berland & Reiser, 2011; Manz, 2015; Conlin, 2012). However, there have been few analyses of whole-class classroom conversations motivated by and oriented toward uncertainty, leaving questions about what work communities need to do to productively take up an individual's expression of uncertainty and how teachers can support this work while addressing multiple instructional (conceptual, epistemic, affective) aims. To address this gap, we conducted a thematic analysis across five cases to understand how classroom communities transformed a student's expression of uncertainty into an episode of collective, scientific sense-making. We found that across our episodes, communities engaged in three forms of work: (1) articulating and motivating a problem, (2) developing and evaluating alignments, and (3) managing shifting goals. We illustrate three themes in an episode from an introductory physics course, highlighting the role that the instructor played in supporting the classroom community to engage in sense-making while addressing canonical targets.
Abstract Type: Symposium Talk
Parallel Session: What Can Be Achieved By Building On Wonderful Ideas
Parallel Session: Parallel Sessions Cluster III

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Jessica Watkins
Tufts University
and Co-Presenter(s)
Eve Manz, Boston University