When procedures discourage insight: epistemological consequences of prompting novice physics students to construct force diagrams

Eric Kuo, Nicole R. Hallinen, Luke D. Conlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

One aim of school science instruction is to help students become adaptive problem solvers. Though successful at structuring novice problem solving, step-by-step problem-solving frameworks may also constrain students’ thinking. This study utilises a paradigm established by Heckler [(2010). Some consequences of prompting novice physics students to construct force diagrams. International Journal of Science Education, 32(14), 1829–1851] to test how cuing the first step in a standard framework affects undergraduate students’ approaches and evaluation of solutions in physics problem solving. Specifically, prompting the construction of a standard diagram before problem solving increases the use of standard procedures, decreasing the use of a conceptual shortcut. Providing a diagram prompt also lowers students’ ratings of informal approaches to similar problems. These results suggest that reminding students to follow typical problem-solving frameworks limits their views of what counts as good problem solving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)814-839
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Volume39
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - May 3 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • epistemology
  • physics education
  • Problem solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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