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ERIC Number: EJ1076729
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1554-9178
Model-Based Reasoning in the Physics Laboratory: Framework and Initial Results
Zwickl, Benjamin M.; Hu, Dehui; Finkelstein, Noah; Lewandowski, H. J.
Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, v11 n2 p020113-1-020113-12 Jul-Dec 2015
We review and extend existing frameworks on modeling to develop a new framework that describes model-based reasoning in introductory and upper-division physics laboratories. Constructing and using models are core scientific practices that have gained significant attention within K-12 and higher education. Although modeling is a broadly applicable process, within physics education, it has been preferentially applied to the iterative development of broadly applicable principles (e.g., Newton's laws of motion in introductory mechanics). A significant feature of the new framework is that measurement tools (in addition to the physical system being studied) are subjected to the process of modeling. Think-aloud interviews were used to refine the framework and demonstrate its utility by documenting examples of model-based reasoning in the laboratory. When applied to the think-aloud interviews, the framework captures and differentiates students' model-based reasoning and helps identify areas of future research. The interviews showed how students productively applied similar facets of modeling to the physical system and measurement tools: construction, prediction, interpretation of data, identification of model limitations, and revision. Finally, we document students' challenges in explicitly articulating assumptions when constructing models of experimental systems and further challenges in model construction due to students' insufficient prior conceptual understanding. A modeling perspective reframes many of the seemingly arbitrary technical details of measurement tools and apparatus as an opportunity for authentic and engaging scientific sense making. [This paper is part of the Focused Collection on Upper Division Physics Courses.]
American Physical Society. One Physics Ellipse 4th Floor, College Park, MD 20740-3844. Tel: 301-209-3200; Fax: 301-209-0865; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: TUES DUE-1043028; TUES DUE-1323101