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Physical Review Physics Education Research
written by N. G. Holmes, Benjamin Keep, and Carl E. Wieman
Scientific expertise is manifested through extensive cycles of making and acting on decisions. To learn the processes and practices of science, therefore, students must have practice with scientific decision making. We argue that this can only happen if students are afforded agency: the opportunity to make decisions to pursue a goal. In this study, we compared two different introductory physics labs through the lens of structuring and supporting student agency. We explore both the role of decision making agency (students are afforded opportunities to make decisions about their lab investigations) and epistemic agency (students are afforded opportunities to generate knowledge). We found that the two labs differed in both the amount and type of structure provided to students: one lab (the intervention condition), with more overall structure, cued student decision making; the other lab (control condition), with less overall structure, made decisions for students. Students in the intervention condition documented, on average, ten times more decisions during their investigations, including more unprompted decisions. In contrast, in labs with less available epistemic agency (i.e., labs where they had to verify or demonstrate canonical models or constants), students in the intervention condition documented fewer decisions than in labs with more available epistemic agency. We associate the improved decision making with students taking up personal agency, based on significant shifts in students' tone as they described their experimental methods (from passive, third-person narratives to active, first-person narratives). Students in the intervention condition also made higher-quality decisions in line with scientific practice. The study speaks to the important nuances between structure and agency in instructional labs and tests the generalizability of previous research on lab instruction to a two-year college population.
Physical Review Physics Education Research: Volume 16, Issue 1, Pages 010109
Subjects ADS Supplements Resource Types
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Inquiry Learning
= Problem Solving
- Learning Environment
- Pedagogy
General Physics
- Physics Education Research
- Scientific Reasoning
- Reference Material
= Research study
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Access Rights:
Free access
License:
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.
Rights Holder:
American Physical Society
DOI:
10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010109
Keywords:
lab best practice, lab instruction, physics lab research, scientific practice
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created June 15, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
January 20, 2023 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
February 10, 2020
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AIP Format
N. Holmes, B. Keep, and C. Wieman, , Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 16 (1), 010109 (2020), WWW Document, (https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010109).
AJP/PRST-PER
N. Holmes, B. Keep, and C. Wieman, Developing scientific decision making by structuring and supporting student agency, Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 16 (1), 010109 (2020), <https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010109>.
APA Format
Holmes, N., Keep, B., & Wieman, C. (2020, February 10). Developing scientific decision making by structuring and supporting student agency. Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res., 16(1), 010109. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010109
Chicago Format
Holmes, N, B. Keep, and C. Wieman. "Developing scientific decision making by structuring and supporting student agency." Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 16, no. 1, (February 10, 2020): 010109, https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010109 (accessed 8 February 2023).
MLA Format
Holmes, Natasha G., Benjamin Keep, and Carl Wieman. "Developing scientific decision making by structuring and supporting student agency." Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 16.1 (2020): 010109. 8 Feb. 2023 <https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010109>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "Natasha G. Holmes and Benjamin Keep and Carl Wieman", Title = {Developing scientific decision making by structuring and supporting student agency}, Journal = {Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res.}, Volume = {16}, Number = {1}, Pages = {010109}, Month = {February}, Year = {2020} }
Refer Export Format

%A Natasha G. Holmes %A Benjamin Keep %A Carl Wieman %T Developing scientific decision making by structuring and supporting student agency %J Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. %V 16 %N 1 %D February 10, 2020 %P 010109 %U https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010109 %O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article %A Holmes, Natasha G. %A Keep, Benjamin %A Wieman, Carl %D February 10, 2020 %T Developing scientific decision making by structuring and supporting student agency %J Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. %V 16 %N 1 %P 010109 %8 February 10, 2020 %U https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010109


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