Promoting and studying deep-level discourse during large-lecture introductory physics Dedra Demaree and Sissi L. Li Physics Department, Oregon State University, Corvallis OR Physics Education Research Conference, July 2010
Introductory calculus-based physics • Three term sequence with three 1-hour lectures per week • 200 students per lecture section, heavily incorporating active-engagement
Curricular model: Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE): • ISLE goals: Building Scientific Abilities Representing information, conducting experiments, thinking divergently, collecting and analyzing data, constructing, modifying and applying relationships and explanations, being able to coordinate these abilities • ISLE Meta-Goals: scientific discourse, metacognition, evaluation, brainstorming multiple explanations, reconciling different solutions, understanding when models apply (assumptions), discussing open-ended situations…
Pedagogical reform methods: • Peer Instruction (PI) and group work are used to facilitate ISLE goals during lecture • Goals are supported by homework, lab write-ups, and exam questions (students are asked to state assumptions, justify the application of model, explain reasoning…) Provide opportunity for students to make meaning in class to build a shared repertoire of knowledge Goal of helping students build sophisticated discourse Develop a classroom community for the practice of meta-goals BUT, need effort to help students practice the meta-goals within the classroom community Reform success:
Using the Communities of Practice (CoP) framework • Focus on helping students belong to the classroom community in order to participate in learning opportunities • Ability to contribute to and negotiate practices of the community supports more participation and more central identities. • Having contributions accepted as valid and worthy affirms identity of being a member in the CoP • Teacher is “Broker”: bridge between professional physics community and classroom community, rather than a dictator Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge University Press.
Set meta-goals and write classroom activities aimed at supporting them Teacher discusses subtleties of open-ended problem solving through lecture Teacher models discourse via interacting with groups during PI • Teacher models discourse via whole class conversations Students adapt discourse practices within groups Are goals met? Refine process and scaffold in new meta-goals Post-class analysis of researcher observations, and student and teacher dialogue
Classroom community can be encouraged during ‘lecture mode’ where students justify reasoning and provide explanations without direct prompting Can you explain that more? What is your understanding so far? The student then explained their reasoning, and a second student immediately understood their viewpoint, and chimed in with a great explanation for the first student. The second student had held the same view a few minutes prior and had just come to understand my explanation and had made sense of it himself using that ‘if then’ reasoning. In lecture, a student interrupted with a question. Instead of launching into another explanation, teacher asked for his existing knowledge. Teacher is acting in the role of the broker, helping the student practice dialoging in a scientific fashion.
Challenge student expectations to alter classroom norms with open-ended, or multiple answer voting questions:
PI Questions to model reasoning and to validate ideas brought up by students Which of the following explanations were consistent with our observation experiments? • The motion is the vector sum of all interactions • The force of the hand on the ball is greater than the force of the earth on the ball, therefore the ball doesn’t move • The force of the hand on the ball is equal to the force of the earth on the ball, therefore the ball doesn’t move • If there is more force in one direction, the object will have a change in motion in that direction • Interactions have the ability to cause motion if they are unbalanced
Encourage students to rely on their prior community developed knowledge to address completely new situations Prompt: “think about it in terms of 211 ideas” (applying mechanics ideas from fall term to the winter term course). Voting Question: An object hangs motionless from a spring. When the object is pulled down, the sum of the elastic potential energy of the spring and the gravitational potential energy of the object of the Earth 1. increase 2. stays the same 3. decreases Based on Newton’s 2nd law, predict what will happen to the reading of the spring scale when the mass is accelerated upward (a>0), then moves at constant velocity, then is accelerated (a<0) to a stop. JUSTIFY YOUR PREDICTION WITH FORCE DIAGRAMS!!http://paer.rutgers.edu/pt3/experiment.php?topicid=3&exptid=172 • The reading will be the same at all times • The reading will increase, stay steady above the ‘at rest’ reading, then decrease back to the ‘at rest’ reading once the object has come to rest • The reading will increase, go back to the ‘at rest’ reading then decrease before the object comes to a full stop • The reading will decrease, stay steady below the ‘at rest’ reading, then increase back to the ‘at rest’ reading once the object has come to rest • The reading will decrease, go back to the ‘at rest’ reading then increase before the object comes to a full stop
Teacher provides opportunity for shared authority with students while circulating among groups One student in a group asked a question too softly for the teacher to hear. T: Hmm? S1: Will the bullet have a trajectory like that or will it just go straight? S2: The bullet’s gonna drop a little bit… S1: Yeah. T: It will drop a little bit. So you are both right, the bullet’s gonna slow down but does that tell us what’s going to happen? Teacher listens but does not respond until the group members have their chance to speak. Authority to teacher, asking for the ‘right answer’ Student taking authority to express understanding Student validating S2’s right to answer in place of the teacher Teacher taking authority but also validating both students’ ideas and return meaning making to the students with question
Use research-based observations to refine activities to better achieve goals Group-work prompt: Observation experiment: make physical representations for the following • The motion of the ball with respect to the table • The motion of the cart with respect to the table • The motion of the ball with respect to the cart • From Instructor Journal: (Wed, Oct 15) Today I tried ISLE observation and testing experiments … 2nd class tossed out magnetism idea - first class didn't come up with any alternate explanations. emphasized representation which gave away answer, did in part for discussion of reference frames which was important. Better way - multiple brainstorming, then represent motion then devise testing experiments after we tested - then could get both effects. liked the discussion on limits and assumptions - both classes brought up assumptions on their own, liked tie in to projectile simulation to discuss effect of assumptions.
Prompts found useful to encourage productive dialogue and engagement • Encouraging discourse and acknowledging struggle: "Go ahead and talk to your neighbors, this is not particularly easy." • Encourage students to teach and value social learning: “I see from the results that it would be helpful to talk to your neighbor, so go ahead and do that.” • Encouraging re-thinking of classroom social norms: "If you are not near a neighbor, just shout. It can get loud in here that's fine with me.“ • Leaving students responsible for though process: "Give it a try. See what you think.“ • Expecting students to immediately use methods just modeled for them: “Give you a chance to think about how to apply these things.”
Evidence of students adapting discourse • Context: • Skills and practices demonstrated: • Part I: Origin choices, assumptions, interpreting task/open-ended question, sense-making • Part II: System choices, analysis of set-up, justifying choices, checking if reasoning makes sense
Abstract • At Oregon State University, the introductory calculus-based physics sequence utilizes social engagement as a learning tool. The reformed curriculum is modeled after the Interactive Science Learning Environment from Rutgers University, and makes use of Peer Instruction as a pedagogical tool to facilitate interactions. Over the past two years we have utilized a number of techniques to understand how to facilitate activities that promote productive discussion within the large lecture classroom. We specifically seek student discussion that goes beyond agreement on conceptual questions, encouraging deeper discussions such as what assumptions are appropriate, or how different assumptions would change the chosen answer to a given question. We have quantitative analysis of engagement based on video data, qualitative analysis of dialogue from audio data, and classroom observations by an external researcher. In this session we share a subset of what we have learned about how to engage students in deep-level discussions during lecture.