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ERIC Number: EJ892583
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 37
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 66
ISSN: ISSN-1050-8406
The Case for Dynamic Models of Learners' Ontologies in Physics
Gupta, Ayush; Hammer, David; Redish, Edward F.
Journal of the Learning Sciences, v19 n3 p285-321 2010
In a series of well-known papers, Chi and Slotta (M. T. H. Chi, 1992, 2005; M. T. H. Chi & J. D. Slotta, 1993; M. T. H. Chi, J. D. Slotta, & N. de Leeuw, 1994; J. Slotta & M. T. H. Chi, 2006; J. D. Slotta, M. T. H. Chi, & E. Joram, 1995) have contended that a reason for students' difficulties in learning physics is that students think about concepts as "things" rather than as "processes" and that there is a significant barrier between these 2 ontological categories. We contest this view, arguing that expert and novice reasoning often and productively traverses ontological categories. We cite examples from everyday, classroom, and professional contexts to illustrate this. We agree with Chi and Slotta that instruction should attend to learners' ontologies, but we find that these ontologies are better understood as dynamic and context dependent rather than as static constraints. To promote 1 ontological description in physics instruction, as suggested by Slotta and Chi, could undermine novices' access to productive cognitive resources that they bring to their studies and inhibit their transition to the dynamic ontological flexibility required of experts. (Contains 15 footnotes.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maryland