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ERIC Number: ED564489
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 341
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3036-1332-6
The Relationship between Students' Problem Solving Frames and Epistemological Beliefs
Wampler, Wendi N.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Purdue University
Introductory undergraduate physics courses aim to help students develop the skills and strategies necessary to solve complex, real world problems, but many students not only leave these courses with serious gaps in their conceptual understanding, but also maintain a novice-like approach to solving problems. "Matter and Interactions" ["M&I"] is a curriculum that focuses on a restructuring of physics content knowledge and emphasizes a systematic approach to problem solving, called modeling, which involves the application physical principles to carefully defined systems of objects and interactions (Chabay and Sherwood, 2007a). Because the "M&I" approach to problem solving is different from many students' previous physics experience, efforts need to be made to attend to their epistemological beliefs and expectations about not only learning physics content knowledge, but problem solving as well. If a student frames solving physics problems as a "plug and chug" type activity, then they are going continue practicing this strategy. Thus, it is important to address students' epistemological beliefs and monitor how they frame the activity of problem solving within the "M&I" course. This study aims to investigate how students frame problem solving within the context of a large scale implementation of the "M&I" curriculum, and how, if at all, those frames shift through the semester. By investigating how students frame the act of problem solving in the "M&I" context, I was able to examine the connection between student beliefs and expectations about problem solving in physics and the skills and strategies used while solving problems in class. To accomplish these goals, I recruited student volunteers from Purdue's introductory, calculus-based physics course and assessed their problem solving approach and espoused epistemological beliefs over the course of a semester. I obtained data through video recordings of the students engaged in small group problem solving during recitation activities, post recitation interviews, and a modified version of the CLASS survey taken at the beginning and end of the semester. I assessed the skills and strategies students used to solve problems, characterized how they framed the activity of problem solving, and then evaluated how these frames shifted through a semester of instruction. Findings indicate that the "M&I" curriculum helped all the students shift towards a deliberate, more productive problem solving frame. Results also show that beliefs and expectations, as well as knowledge of problem solving skills and strategies must be aligned for students to shift to a productive frame. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Indiana