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ERIC Number: EJ1176398
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-2469-9896
Exploring One Aspect of Pedagogical Content Knowledge of Teaching Assistants Using the Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism
Karim, Nafis I.; Maries, Alexandru; Singh, Chandralekha
Physical Review Physics Education Research, v14 n1 p010117-1-010117-19 Jan-Jun 2018
The Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism (CSEM) has been used to assess student understanding of introductory concepts of electricity and magnetism because many of the items on the CSEM have strong distractor choices which correspond to students' alternate conceptions. Instruction is unlikely to be effective if instructors do not know the common alternate conceptions of introductory physics students and explicitly take into account common student difficulties in their instructional design. Here, we discuss research involving the CSEM to evaluate one aspect of the pedagogical content knowledge of teaching assistants (TAs): knowledge of introductory students' alternate conceptions in electricity and magnetism as revealed by the CSEM. For each item on the CSEM, the TAs were asked to identify the most common incorrect answer choice selected by introductory physics students if they did not know the correct answer after traditional instruction. Then, we used introductory student CSEM post-test data to assess the extent to which TAs were able to identify the most common alternate conception of introductory students in each question on the CSEM. We find that the TAs were thoughtful when attempting to identify common student difficulties and they enjoyed learning about student difficulties this way. However, they struggled to identify many common difficulties of introductory students that persist after traditional instruction. We discuss specific alternate conceptions that persist after traditional instruction, the extent to which TAs were able to identify them, and results from think-aloud interviews with TAs which provided valuable information regarding why the TAs sometimes selected certain alternate conceptions as the most common but were instead very rare among introductory students. We also discuss how tasks such as the one used in this study can be used in professional development programs to engender productive discussions about the importance of being knowledgeable about student alternate conceptions in order to help students learn. Interviews with TAs engaged in this task as well as our experience with such tasks in our professional development programs suggest that they are beneficial.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh)
Grant or Contract Numbers: DUE1524575