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ERIC Number: ED568240
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 101
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-1-3038-3599-5
An Empirical Study of the Process of Crafting and Using Definitions
Little, Angela Jean
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley
In this dissertation I analyze the process of crafting definitions whose purpose is classification. The context I examine is undergraduate upper-division physical science majors defining and naming sub-categories of a physical phenomenon in the context of a design task over an extended period of time. The goal of the design task is one of classification: help people better identify the phenomenon out in the world. I first develop an analytic framework for the process of improving a definition. This framework involves an interplay between four main elements: the current state of the definition, criteria for what makes a good definition, examples, and definitionally unarticulated knowledge (DUK). By DUK, I mean implicit judgments that definers make about categorization that have not been incorporated into the definition, per se. I show how criteria and the practices associated with meeting them guide the refinement work. Once participants craft their definition a question emerges: to what extent does it serve them as a tool when they make sense of new examples? I zoom in on moments where new examples are introduced by participants or the facilitator and describe the extent to which students rely on their own crafted definition. The consideration of a new example can sometimes lead to participants naming a new sub-category and I analyze this process as well. The detailed empirical analysis is bookended by a set of workshop design principles that made the analysis possible and some educational implications of the work. I lay out a set of design principles for creating activities wherein people engage productively in collaboratively defining. I conclude by exploring the educational implications for college physics teaching as well as more general instances where one is interested in crafting a definition for the purpose of classification. [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:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A