This paper concerns the analysis of data collected during the implementation of a teaching proposal on thermodynamics in a class of 20 students (17 year-olds) of a scientifically-oriented secondary school in Italy. After a brief presentation of the teaching proposal design and of the notion of learning environment as properly complex territory, the results of two levels of analysis are discussed. The first level regards a phenomenological (bottom-up) analysis of a selection of individual interviews to students. The analysis allowed us: i) to reconstruct how different students approached the study of thermodynamics; ii) to show in what sense we can infer, in the words of Confrey, that the teaching activities have shaped a “classroom corridor” that the students were enabled to navigate by constructing “individual trajectories” (Confrey, 2006). The second level of analysis regards the development of a “humble, or local, theory” (diSessa, Cobb, 2004; Levrini, diSessa, 2008) aimed at explaining why and how a specific interplay between the collective and individual dynamics fosters and supports the construction of personal learning trajectories. Such a humble theory is comprised of: - an agent stimulating and supporting students’ in their construction of trajectories - the imaginative game put in action by the students and represented by the circularity between i) recognizing a space of possibilities for developing thinking, ii) anticipating where the various possible paths can lead, iii) testing the possibilities against reality (reification); - boundary conditions – classroom norms (trust in teacher and an acknowledged and productive role that the students were encouraged to play within the classroom) and being in their regime of competence; - a dynamical mechanism lying at the back of the process – the specific action of mediation operated by the teacher in order to manage the collective time and to tune the individual cognition, the collective dynamics and the discipline. The specific example of humble theory will provide the basis for addressing methodological issues raised by the Design Studies (Cobb et al., 2003) and concerning the development of theories in Physics Education Research. References: Confrey, J., (2006). The evolution of design studies as methodology, in Sawyer K. (ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of The Learning Sciences, Cambridge University Press, 135 – 152. Cobb, P., Confrey, J., diSessa A., Lehrer, R., Schauble, L. (2003). Design Experiments in Educational Research, Educational Researcher, 32 (1), 9-13. diSessa, A. A., Cobb, P. (2004). Ontological innovation and the role of theory in design experiments. The J. of Learning Sciences, 13(1), 77-103. Levrini, O., diSessa, A A., (2008). How Students Learn from Multiple Contexts and Definitions: Proper Time as a Coordination Class. Phys. Rev. STPER, 4, 010107-1-18.

From heuristics to humble theories in physics education: the case of modelling personal appropriation of thermodynamics in naturalistic settings

LEVRINI, OLIVIA;TASQUIER, GIULIA;PECORI, BARBARA;FANTINI, PAOLA
2011

Abstract

This paper concerns the analysis of data collected during the implementation of a teaching proposal on thermodynamics in a class of 20 students (17 year-olds) of a scientifically-oriented secondary school in Italy. After a brief presentation of the teaching proposal design and of the notion of learning environment as properly complex territory, the results of two levels of analysis are discussed. The first level regards a phenomenological (bottom-up) analysis of a selection of individual interviews to students. The analysis allowed us: i) to reconstruct how different students approached the study of thermodynamics; ii) to show in what sense we can infer, in the words of Confrey, that the teaching activities have shaped a “classroom corridor” that the students were enabled to navigate by constructing “individual trajectories” (Confrey, 2006). The second level of analysis regards the development of a “humble, or local, theory” (diSessa, Cobb, 2004; Levrini, diSessa, 2008) aimed at explaining why and how a specific interplay between the collective and individual dynamics fosters and supports the construction of personal learning trajectories. Such a humble theory is comprised of: - an agent stimulating and supporting students’ in their construction of trajectories - the imaginative game put in action by the students and represented by the circularity between i) recognizing a space of possibilities for developing thinking, ii) anticipating where the various possible paths can lead, iii) testing the possibilities against reality (reification); - boundary conditions – classroom norms (trust in teacher and an acknowledged and productive role that the students were encouraged to play within the classroom) and being in their regime of competence; - a dynamical mechanism lying at the back of the process – the specific action of mediation operated by the teacher in order to manage the collective time and to tune the individual cognition, the collective dynamics and the discipline. The specific example of humble theory will provide the basis for addressing methodological issues raised by the Design Studies (Cobb et al., 2003) and concerning the development of theories in Physics Education Research. References: Confrey, J., (2006). The evolution of design studies as methodology, in Sawyer K. (ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of The Learning Sciences, Cambridge University Press, 135 – 152. Cobb, P., Confrey, J., diSessa A., Lehrer, R., Schauble, L. (2003). Design Experiments in Educational Research, Educational Researcher, 32 (1), 9-13. diSessa, A. A., Cobb, P. (2004). Ontological innovation and the role of theory in design experiments. The J. of Learning Sciences, 13(1), 77-103. Levrini, O., diSessa, A A., (2008). How Students Learn from Multiple Contexts and Definitions: Proper Time as a Coordination Class. Phys. Rev. STPER, 4, 010107-1-18.
Frontiers of Fundamental Physics
57
58
O. Levrini; Tasquier G.; B. Pecori; P. Fantini
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/131262
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