The modeling approach to teaching physics
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The Modeling Approach to Teaching Physics Presentation to School Board (or group of administrators) Your name Your high school address Why a different approach to physics instruction?

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The modeling approach to teaching physics l.jpg

The Modeling Approach to Teaching Physics

Presentation to School Board (or group of administrators)

Your name

Your high school

address


Why a different approach to physics instruction l.jpg
Why a different approach to physics instruction?

  • Research shows that after conventional instruction, students could not fully explain even the simplest of concepts.

  • Worse yet, conscientious conventional instruction delivered by talented (and even award-winning teachers) did not remedy the situation significantly.


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What has NOT made a difference in student understanding?

  • lucid, enthusiastic explanations and examples

  • dramatic demonstrations

  • textbooks

  • lots of problem solving and worksheets


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Any theory of instruction must answer two questions.

  • What should students learn?

  • How should students learn?

Conventional instruction’s answer:

  • Tell the student as much as you can.

  • Show the students as much as you can.


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Basic Assumptions of Conventional Instruction

  • Students have the same mental models as the instructor

  • Students understand what they hear and see.

  • These are NOT warranted by assessment results or interviews with students.


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Why does conventional instruction fail?

  • It is founded on folklore, heresay, and casual observation.

  • Its principles of teaching are fragmented and compartmentalized.

  • It has been uncritically accepted.


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An alternative, the modeling approach, has had significant success in promoting understanding. Why?

  • It is grounded in systematic, empirical investigation.

  • It is student centered.

  • It can be critically evaluated (FCI).


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Models capture the similarities that scientists perceive. success in promoting understanding. Why?

  • Science is the search for reproducible patterns in Nature.

  • We grasp and hold these patterns as concepts by constructing models.

  • Models are representations of structure in physical systems.


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The Modeling Method seeks to foster: success in promoting understanding. Why?

  • the view that science is coherent (as opposed to the view that science consists of a set of loosely related concepts and problems.

  • the view that learning occurs through actively seeking understanding (as opposed to the view that learning consists of taking notes, listening to the teacher, memorizing facts/formulas, etc.


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Traditional physics instruction: success in promoting understanding. Why?

  • Problems and their answers are seen to be the basic units of knowledge.

  • Everyone knows the answer comes from equations - why draw diagrams?

  • Promotes “plug and chug” mentality.

  • Familiar student protest is “But we never did a problem like this before!”


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Modeling Method approach to learning physics: success in promoting understanding. Why?

  • A few basic models form the content core of physics.

  • Novel problems do not require the use of novel models.

  • The process is most important, not just the bottom line final answer.


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How does the Modeling Method foster student understanding? success in promoting understanding. Why?

  • Students design their own experimental procedures.

  • Students must justify their interpretations of data in Socratically guided dialogs.

  • Models created from experimental interpretations must be deployed in carefully selected problems in order to “cut the contextual strings”.


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Justification of the model whiteboards.

  • Explicit appeal to an interpretation of an experimental result.

    Common questions:

  • “Why did you do that?”

  • “Where did that come from?”

  • “How did you know to do that?”

    Unless students can explain something fully, they do not understand it!


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How is the modeling classroom different? whiteboards.

  • It is student centered vs teacher centered.

  • Students are active vs passive.

  • Emphasis is on cognitive skill development vs knowledge transfer.

  • Students construct and evaluate arguments vs finding the right answer.

  • Teacher is Socratic guide vs the main authority.

  • Extensive use of computers for data acquisition and analysis.


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What is the role of the instructor in a Modeling classroom? whiteboards.

  • Designer of experimental environments.

  • Designer of problems and activities.

  • Critical listener to student presentations, focusing on what makes good arguments in science.

  • Must establish a trusting, open, “OK to make a mistake” classroom atmosphere.

  • No longer the central character.


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Implementation Results whiteboards.

  • Modeling Methodology in use in over 300 classrooms.

  • Improved student performance:

    • FCI gains much higher than in traditional classrooms

    • Long-term retention of basic physics principles

    • Improved problem-solving (MBT)


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Effectiveness of Instruction: whiteboards.FCI Scores


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FCI Pre-Post Scores whiteboards. : Course


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