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Tufts STEM Lecture Series

December 4, 2013

Tufts STEM Education Lecture Series: "Tension in Teachers’ Perceptions of Student Ideas: Incorrect Answers and Productive Resources" - Michael Wittmann.

Monday, December 16, 2013 from 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Open to the public. All are welcome but you must register here to attend.

Location: CEEO Workshop Room, Curtis Hall - Basement, 474 Boston Avenue (Located at the bottom of the stairs of the Brown and Brew outside patio)
Tufts University, Medford Campus

Co-sponsored by the Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach and the Department of Education,

Michael Wittmann
Associate Professor of Physics
Cooperating Associate Professor of Education
University of Maine

Tension in Teachers’ Perceptions of Student Ideas: Incorrect Answers and Productive Resources

In two studies that are part of the NSF-funded Maine Physical Sciences Partnership, we have been investigating teacher and student understanding of energy. In one study, we looked at teachers' content knowledge and their knowledge of content and students. A central question was whether teachers can predict their students' incorrect answers on a survey, and whether this correlated with student achievement on the same survey. In a second study, we looked at student classroom discourse about energy, in particular the productive resources students have. We find rich evidence of mechanistic reasoning, useful metaphors of energy, and more. There are tensions between the two studies. Are we studying difficulties or strengths? What are teachers doing with their knowledge of incorrect ideas and the productive resources that emerge from discussion? In this talk, I will present results from both studies as a foundation for further discussion.

Michael Wittmann founded the UMaine Physics Education Research Laboratory and is co-founder of the Maine Center for STEM Education Research (RiSE Center), an interdisciplinary center with education research faculty across the STEM disciplines and in the College of Education and Human Development. One of Michael's research activities is to investigate students' knowledge of energy (using surveys and classroom video) as well as teachers' knowledge of what their students know and are thinking. This work takes place primarily in middle school and high school classrooms and in teacher professional development activities. A second research activity is the study of embodied cognition and interaction using examples from kinematics, the analysis and manipulation of equations, and molecular geometry in chemistry. This research uses individual interviews and classroom video as its focus. In both research areas, Michael's work emphasizes what people do well and how their actions and interactions lead to progress on the task at hand.


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