education research

Get the word out: Effective communication of physics education research

May 16, 2011

I recently gave a plenary talk at the Foundation and Frontiers of Physics Education Research – Puget Sound conference.  What an honor!  And very fun, because I got to talk about anything that I wanted to.  I’ve been wanting — for ages — to talk about the intersections that I see between science journalism and […]

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Out of one, many: Five researchers analyze the same student video (#aaptsm10)

July 21, 2010

I’m going to attempt to liveblog (again, from AAPT) on this very interesting presentations, where five theoretical perspectives are brought to bear on a single video of classroom interactions.  You can see the video itself online at Dewey Dykstra’s website, by looking under the “Different Perspectives” folder.  There you’ll find the video, its transcript, and […]

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Students’ understanding of energy: Acting out our thinking (#aaptsm10)

July 21, 2010

At the AAPT meeting, the folks from Seattle Pacific University have taken one session by storm, to discuss their thinking and experimentation on students’ idea of energy.  They’re working, in particular, on embodied cognition — learning activities that involve the body to symbolically engage in a scientific problem. Lane Seeley opened out with the claim […]

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Student reasoning in tutorials (#AAPTsm10)

July 20, 2010

I’m at the American Association of Physics Teachers meeting, and will be trying to liveblog some of my observations from sessions while I’m here.  The absence of wireless may dampen the true “live”-ness of the liveblog, but I’ll aim for semi-live blogging – ie., I’ll post stuff from my hotel at night, before I collapse […]

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Taking tests helps you learn (maybe)

April 9, 2010

photo by Patrick Hannigan (click for Wikimedia link) I’ve written before on some interesting psychology studies on the benefits of retrieval for learning and memory.  I recently heard a talk on the subject (by Sean Kang of UCSD) that spurred me to think about it again, and also generated some interesting discussion with a thoughtful […]

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We say “pshaw” to learning styles

March 23, 2010

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a very long time, but as any faithful readers might have noted, I’ve been a bit in-absentia for the past several months.   I was off busy making some money to support my blogging habit, but I’m happy to report that I’m back, and working on ramping up […]

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We learn by taking tests (even when we get the wrong answer)

November 25, 2009

photo by Patrick Hannigan (click for Wikimedia link) We think of taking tests as something to assess whether we learned something, but there is a fascinating set of literature that shows that it does more than that.  Tests can be learning events in their own right.  It makes sense when you think about it.  How […]

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Are lectures evil?

September 14, 2009

No, of course not.  But to hear us education folks prattle on, you’d think that an instructor who lectures to their students is doing them a grave disservice. Well, if all they’re doing is lecture, then their students could be getting more bang for their buck.  But lecturing is perhaps an indispensable part of class, […]

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How we talk about what we learn (Blogging from the AAPT)

July 29, 2009

This PERC talk was from Anna Sfard about how we construct meaning socially How we talk about things, says Sfard, matters.  How we talk about things changes what we see, and also what we do. How do we talk about math or physics?  How do we talk about learning math and physics? We need more […]

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The construction of causal schemes (Blogging from the AAPT)

July 29, 2009

This is the from PERC (Physics Education Research Conference). This talk was by Andrea diSessa (Berkeley), who developed the theory of phenomenological primitives (or p-prims). diSessa’s recent work is looking at how students’ intuitive ideas help them construct meaning.  For example,  Newton’s Law of cooling says that the rate of change of temperature of something […]

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Cognitive and Neural Aspects of Learning (Blogging from the AAPT)

July 29, 2009

This is the beginning of the PERC (Physics Education Research Conference).  This talk was by Michael Posner, about how brain science informs us about effective classroom learning. Brain research gives us insight into the process of how people learn and understand, including techniques like fMRI.  Neuroimaging contributes to our understanding of how we should teach. […]

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Interactive lecture demonstrations (Blogging from the AAPT)

July 28, 2009

Today’s session is about using interactive lecture demonstrations to effectively improve your students’ understanding of concepts. As I mentioned in my previous post, while students like demos, they don’t get the things we want them to get unless they predict the results of the experiement or somehow get involved.  David Sokoloff showed how they have […]

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The burden of proof: What does education research really tell us?

February 25, 2009

UPDATE: I’ve just posted a new article about how educational innovations do (and don’t) spread around. Do active learning strategies work? This article — and especially the lively discussion in the comments — argue about why college instructors aren’t using active learning strategies, and whether there is evidence that such strategies work.  He says: People […]

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Why students fail to transfer what they learn

November 17, 2008

We had a visit from Stanford education researcher Dan Schwartz last week, and what he told us about how people learn just rocked my world. I always enjoyed his work (and it was a real pleasure to tell him how much he’s influenced my thinking about education), and have blogged before about his A Time […]

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