Event Title

Learning in Motion: How do Students Transfer Knowledge Between Scientific Disciplines?

Co-Author(s)

Luke Westbrook

Research Mentor(s)

Emily Borda

Description

Transfer, the ability to apply a learned concept to a new context, is an assumed outcome of most undergraduate curricula. This is particularly true in the case of energy as a concept applied across science disciplines. Chemistry courses, for example, expect students to understand and apply energy-related arguments when learning about atomic structure and bonding, presumably relying on energy-related ideas learned first in physics. Students are often introduced to energy ideas with discipline-specific vocabulary and problem-solving tasks, obscuring the fact that energy ideas translate across the disciplines. Consequently, students may develop compartmentalized, surface-level understandings. We are investigating student transfer of energy-related ideas within a coherent science course series for preservice teachers (SCED 201-4). In this series, similar modeling tools and vocabulary are purposefully used across courses to help students see energy as a unifying framework. We have set out to identify and understand what transfer “looks like” in this idealized context, focusing particularly on energy. In think-aloud interviews we ask students to describe and explain chemical phenomena they have not yet encountered, but to which it is possible to apply energy concepts from the prerequisite physics course in the series. Our qualitative analysis focuses on identification of the energy concepts students utilize and reasoning moves they apply. In doing this we aim to better understand the resources students possess and the obstacles they encounter when attempting transfer. We hope that a better understanding of transfer in the academic community can lead to curriculums that are better equipped to maximize it.

Document Type

Event

Start Date

May 2018

End Date

May 2018

Location

SMATE, Science, Math, and Technology Education

Rights

Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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May 17th, 9:00 AM May 17th, 12:00 PM

Learning in Motion: How do Students Transfer Knowledge Between Scientific Disciplines?

SMATE, Science, Math, and Technology Education

Transfer, the ability to apply a learned concept to a new context, is an assumed outcome of most undergraduate curricula. This is particularly true in the case of energy as a concept applied across science disciplines. Chemistry courses, for example, expect students to understand and apply energy-related arguments when learning about atomic structure and bonding, presumably relying on energy-related ideas learned first in physics. Students are often introduced to energy ideas with discipline-specific vocabulary and problem-solving tasks, obscuring the fact that energy ideas translate across the disciplines. Consequently, students may develop compartmentalized, surface-level understandings. We are investigating student transfer of energy-related ideas within a coherent science course series for preservice teachers (SCED 201-4). In this series, similar modeling tools and vocabulary are purposefully used across courses to help students see energy as a unifying framework. We have set out to identify and understand what transfer “looks like” in this idealized context, focusing particularly on energy. In think-aloud interviews we ask students to describe and explain chemical phenomena they have not yet encountered, but to which it is possible to apply energy concepts from the prerequisite physics course in the series. Our qualitative analysis focuses on identification of the energy concepts students utilize and reasoning moves they apply. In doing this we aim to better understand the resources students possess and the obstacles they encounter when attempting transfer. We hope that a better understanding of transfer in the academic community can lead to curriculums that are better equipped to maximize it.