Probing Students' Epistemologies Using Split Tasks Documents

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Probing Students' Epistemologies Using Split Tasks 

written by Timothy L. McCaskey and Andrew Elby

Do students really believe the physical principles they learn in class? To explore this question, we gave an FCI "split" task in which students indicated the answers they think a scientist would give and also indicated the answers they really believe. To interpret the splits that students indicated between what they believe and what they were taught, we interviewed students about why they split. It turns out that a split does not indicate that the student disbelieves the scientist's answer. The splits actually arose for other reasons, one of which was students indicating a discrepancy between what they were taught and what makes sense to them. For this and other reasons, we devised a new split task focused on these discrepancies between "what makes sense" and what a scientist would say. The results of this new experiment, including validation interviews, will be discussed briefly. Evidence suggests that students are more willing to reconcile physics concepts with their everyday experience if epistemological development is an explicit goal of instruction.

Published September 1, 2005
Last Modified July 8, 2013

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