program_wb_i - page 91

July 26–30, 2014
Monday afternoon
Poster – Chandralekha Singh, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260;
Chris Schunn, University of Pittsburgh
We discuss three conceptual areas in physics that are particularly impor-
tant targets for educational interventions in K-12 science. These conceptual
areas are force and motion, conservation of energy, and geometrical optics,
which were prominent in the U.S. national and four U.S. state standards
that we examined. The four U.S. state standards that were analyzed to
explore the extent to which the K-12 science standards differ in different
states were selected to include states in different geographic regions and of
different sizes. The three conceptual areas that were common to all the four
state standards are conceptual building blocks for other science concepts
covered in the K-12 curriculum. We discuss the nature of difficulties in
these areas along with pointers towards approaches that have met with
some success in each conceptual area. We thank the National Science
Foundation for support.
PST1E18: 9:15-10 p.m. Exploring One Aspect of Pedagogical
Content Knowledge of Teaching Assistants Using the
Test of Understanding Graphs in Kinematics*
Poster – Alexandru Maries, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15217;
Chandralekha Singh, University of Pittsburgh
The Test of Understanding Graphs in Kinematics (TUG-K) is a multiple
choice test developed by Beichner in 1994 to assess students? understand-
ing of kinematics graphs. Many of the items on the TUG-K have strong
distractor choices which correspond to students? common difficulties
with kinematics graphs. We evaluate one aspect of the pedagogical content
knowledge of first year physics graduate students enrolled in a teaching
assistant (TA) training course related to topics covered in the TUG-K.
In particular, for each item on the TUG-K, the graduate students were
asked to identify which incorrect answer choice they thought would be
most commonly selected by introductory physics students if they did not
know the correct answer after instruction in relevant concepts. We used
the graduate student data and the data from Beichner’s original paper for
introductory physics students (which was collected from over 500 college
and high-school students) to assess this aspect of the pedagogical content
knowledge (PCK) of the graduate students, i.e., knowledge of student dif-
ficulties related to kinematics graphs as they are revealed by the TUG-K.
We find that, although the graduate students, on average, performed better
than random guessing at identifying introductory student difficulties on
the TUG-K, they did not identify many common difficulties that introduc-
tory students have with graphs in kinematics. In addition, we find that
the ability of graduate students to identify the difficulties of introductory
students is context dependent and that discussions among the graduate
students improved their understanding of student difficulties related to
kinematics graphs. Moreover, we find that the ability of American graduate
students in identifying common student difficulties is comparable with that
of foreign graduate students.
*Work supported by the National Science Foundation.
PST1E19: 8:30-9:15 p.m. Exploring One Aspect of Pedagogical
Content Knowledge of Physics Instructors and Teaching
Assistants Using the Force Concept Inventory*
Poster – Alexandru Maries, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15217;
Chandralekha Singh, University of Pittsburgh
The Force Concept Inventory (FCI) has been widely used to assess student
understanding of introductory mechanics concepts by a variety of educa-
tors and physics education researchers. One reason for this extensive use
is that many of the items on the FCI have strong distractor choices that
correspond to students’ alternate conceptions in mechanics. Instruction is
unlikely to be effective if instructors do not know the common alternate
conceptions of introductory physics students and explicitly take into
account students’ initial knowledge state in their instructional design.
Here, we discuss research involving the FCI to evaluate one aspect of the
pedagogical content knowledge of both instructors and teaching assistants
tive reflection as a bridge between learning content and pedagogy. We will
describe the structure of the course and provide examples of the activities
of the course that have been used to facilitate students’ metacognition and
development of their PCK.
*This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation
under grant 1140855.
PST1E14: 9:15-10 p.m. Biology to Physics Teacher – Case Study
Poster – Judy Vondruska, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD
This intrinsic case study explores the process through which an experi-
enced biology teacher becomes a high school physics teacher for the first
time. Data gathered through interviews and evaluation of a personal jour-
nal focused on the teacher’s preparation over the summer and the teacher’s
perceptions and practices during the first year of teaching the course. The
results of this case study suggest that while many teaching practices can be
transferred between disciplines, there is difficulty in building expertise in
content knowledge. Additionally, while access to the Internet can reduce
the isolation of a teacher teaching outside their discipline by providing
numerous resources, a content novice does not have the experience or
confidence to evaluate which materials are appropriate to use.
PST1E15: 8:30-9:15 p.m. Fostering Partnerships between
Physics Departments and K-12 Teachers*
Poster – Jennifer L. Docktor, University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, La Crosse,
WI 54601;
Gubbi Sudhakaran, University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Jerry Redman, Winona State University
The “A LOT of Science” project at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
provides professional development (PD) in Physical Science to in-service
elementary and middle school teachers from high-needs school districts
during summer institutes and ongoing weekend workshops. The PD is de-
signed to incorporate the Next Generation Science Standards into project
activities. We will summarize findings from all three years of the project,
including teacher gains in content knowledge, student achievement data,
self-reported use of inquiry-based pedagogy, and additional impacts of the
*This project is funded by a U.S. Department of Education Mathematics and Science
Partnerships Program grant through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruc-
PST1E16: 9:15-10 p.m. Reforming Physics Teacher Education at
the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Poster – Jennifer L. Docktor, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse,
WI 54601;
Gubbi Sudhakaran; University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UW-L) Physics Department
is nationally recognized as a thriving undergraduate physics program,
and routinely ranks among the top producers of physics majors among
bachelor’s-only granting institutions. Despite its success at recruiting and
retaining physics majors, UW-L graduates very few students licensed to
teach high school physics. Recently, UW-L was selected as a targeted site by
the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) and has made focused
efforts to increase the number of students pursuing careers in physics
teaching. We will present a description of changes that have been made to
improve physics teacher education at UW-L and evaluate the effectiveness
of each initiative. Preliminary evidence suggests that the most successful
practice for recruiting and retaining students in physics teaching has been
focused advising and mentoring from faculty members.
*This project is funded in part by an award from the Physics Teacher Education
Coalition (PhysTEC).
PST1E17: 8:30-9:15 p.m. Connecting Three Pivotal Concepts in
K-12 Science State Standards and Maps of Conceptual
Growth to Research in Physics Education
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