DOCX

Encouraging Reflection in the Physics Classroom

By Francisco Tucker,2014-11-02 19:37
20 views 0
Encouraging Reflection in the Physics Classroom

    Encouraging Reflection in the Physics Classroom

    Charles Abramo

    A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of

    Master‟s in Physics Education

    State University of New York College at Buffalo

    Dr. Luanna Gomez

    8 September 2011

    Encouraging Reflection in the Physics Classroom

    Supervisory Faculty: Associate Professor Daniel MacIsaac

     Assistant Professor Luanna S. Gomez

     Physics Department

    Abstract

    High school students should be encouraged to reflect on their own learning. Reflection will enhance their metacognition and help them become the independent learners they will need to be in order to be successful in a university setting and in life. Such tools as described herein assist the physics teacher to encourage students to reflect. I present small group collaboration as an example of a tool for use in the specific mechanics topic of graphing position versus clock reading, to reinforce a reflective learning environment. I include what prior knowledge I expect students to have, difficulties related to reflection I expect to arise, and instructional strategies to overcome these difficulties. I relate the mechanics topic of graphing position versus clock reading to the NYS Physics Core Curriculum. I show how students can demonstrate an improved level of reflection after instruction by commenting on their own learning. The comments are instructor-plotted on a provided reflective learning scale.

     2

    Encouraging Reflection in the Physics Classroom

    Table of Contents Title page 1

    Supervisory faculty 2 Abstract 2

    Table of contents 3 Background 4

    neral tools 8 Ge

     Instructor tools 8

     Instructor or Student tools 16

     Student tools 20

    Mechanics application 22 Assessment 26

    Conclusion 28

    Appendices 30

     A Know Scale 30

     B List of Reflection Tools 31

     C Ohm Table 32

     Glossary 33 D

    Annotated References 37 Biography 40

     3

    Encouraging Reflection in the Physics Classroom

    Background

    * Reflection is an amazing human tool, capable of raising each of us to greater ability. According to Schön, “thinking [of] what they are doing while they are doing it, called

    *reflection-in-action, leads to constructive insights (1987, p. 26-31). Reflection in general will focus attention on the factors involved in an action thus allowing one to remember the activity and judge it in respect to similar activities. Reflection on learning, specifically, will enhance a

    *student‟s metacognition, the awareness and knowledge of one‟s own learning and the ability to communicate about one‟s own learning (Metcalfe & Shimamura, 1994). Thus reflection will

    help him/her become an independent learner.

     The problem in education, as pointed out by Schön (1987), is that instruction communicates specific techniques but the choice of applying such techniques requires judgment in ethics. Problem-solving requires a wider understanding of the society and conditions in which the problem exists than specific techniques alone. Thus metacognition plays a role in deciding what factors are to be included in the problem to be solved. Of course, different professions have different roles, so it is to be expected that different people will choose a different set of factors to consider. However, it can be expected that a true professional will not solve a problem in a manner which will violate a law, or rights of people affected by his/her solution. More is required from education than familiarity with isolated facts; understanding of systems and ability to make inferences with new data is vital. Thus, independent learning skills are essential.

     It is increasingly true that new university students have graduated from secondary education without independent learning skills. These students, in great numbers, require remedial education in basic mathematics and English language arts. For the most part, such students are taking five or more years to complete a four year degree program. One challenge

     4

    Encouraging Reflection in the Physics Classroom

    such students face is the vastly different environment. In high school, a student can expect to be told what is important to know and what it is and how it is used in each stated situation. For example, a formula is worked out by the teacher for each component as the unknown. If the given formula is “y = mx + b,” then the teacher expects to work out four examples, one for each

    component being unknown. In contrast, a university student must organize his/her own time, decide what is most important, study what he/she can of it and how this subset of a larger body of knowledge can be applied to varying situations. For example, the formula for gravitational potential energy is derived by the professor from more fundamental data. It is then the student‟s

    responsibility to memorize the formula, learn the meaning of the components of the formula and how to apply the formula and under what circumstances it would be valid. Reflection would certainly help a student transition from a secondary to post-secondary setting if he/she knew how to study before hand. “The dean of a well-known school of management observed [around 1962]

    that „we need most to teach students how to make decisions under conditions of uncertainty, but

    *this is just what we don‟t know how to teach‟ (William Pownes, personal communication,

    1972).” (Schön, 1987, p. 11). A personal reflection of Carl Rogers to a group of teachers assembled at Harvard University in 1952 included the observation that the “only learning which

    significantly influences behavior is self-discovered, self-appropriated learning.” (Schön, 1987, p.

    89). Reflection is a powerful tool in equipping students to be independent learners. Reflection is the bridge between knowledge and the uncertainty students will face.

    * Reflective learning is an extensive process. The learning process consists of several steps. In all, the steps would include confronting a novel situation, recognizing the situation as novel, identifying the phenomenon, establishing a context for the phenomenon, finding a means of predicting the phenomenon and codifying the circumstances under which the means of

     5

    Encouraging Reflection in the Physics Classroom

    prediction is valid. Confronting novel situations and recognizing the situation as novel is traditionally ignored in education. Efforts have been made by Tik Lem (1989), David Hestenes 2011), and others to create awareness in education of the necessity to provide experiences for (

    discrepant events which lead to confront and recognition. Traditional education relies on instructor lecture. Regardless of these experiences being provided or not, such steps are not purely reflective. The reflective parts of the learning cycle are four; they should include identifying the phenomenon, establishing a context for the phenomenon, finding a means of predicting the phenomenon and codifying the circumstances under which the means of prediction

    *is valid. Identifying a phenomenon is also referred to as “naming. Establishing the context for

    *a phenomenon is referred to as “framing. Finding a means of predicting a phenomenon is

    embraced by traditional scientific methods but to do so reflectively requires an awareness of reason for the prediction. Codifying the circumstances under which the means of prediction is valid usually takes a great deal of experimentation but some reflection on limiting conditions are qualitatively useful. A perfect reflective tool would ideally contain all six components of reflective learning (confronting a novel situation, recognizing the situation as novel, identifying the phenomenon, establishing a context for the phenomenon, finding a means of predicting the phenomenon and codifying the circumstances under which the means of prediction is valid). But any tool designated as reflective must incorporate at least one of the four reflective parts of the learning cycle (identifying the phenomenon, establishing a context for the phenomenon, finding a means of predicting the phenomenon and codifying the circumstances under which the means of prediction is valid). My focus is on reflective tools for use in a unit. I leave perfect reflective tools to curriculum designers who can embrace more class time.

     6

    Encouraging Reflection in the Physics Classroom

     Since we live in an entirely technological world today, it must be expected that any adult will need to continue learning about advances in technology, changing relations between nations, and his/her changing body and family relations as well. Since reflection is an important aspect of a student‟s ability to be successful in any situation which requires learning, it becomes evident

    that reflection is an important aspect to all people‟s ability to be successful in life, not just those

    about to enter college.

     7

    Encouraging Reflection in the Physics Classroom

    General tools

     An obstacle to becoming a reflective individual resides in the belief that there is one correct route (Gearhart, 2009). Explicitly directing a student to be reflective, thus creates an additional task, in the student mind, to add to other requirements. Such is unnecessarily overwhelming. Using the tools which follow will create a reflective student without challenging the student to know the right way to do it or making the student do something extra.

     Similarly, an educator is overwhelmed with entreaties to practice a certain methodology or use best-practices. In spite of this, professional development is generally desired. “Teachers,

    who often resent becoming targets of blame for the perceived failures of public education, tend nevertheless to advocate their own versions of the need for professional development and renewal.” (Schön, 1987, p. 15). The tools I describe below may be used as an educator sees fit. They can be used once or repeatedly. One or many can be incorporated into a curriculum or unit. Quite in contrast to something extra, the tools provided are in common use and many are

    themselves considered best-practices. This document serves to qualify the reason for the tools‟

    success in reflective instruction.

     In these sections, I describe tools which will assist the teacher to encourage students to

    *reflect. The first section contains those tools for an instructor to apply. The second section contains those tools for either an instructor or a student to apply. The third section contains those tools for a student to apply to him/herself. A list of all tools is included in Appendix B, List of Reflective Tools.

Instructor tools:

     Assign learning commentaries. A learning commentary is a journal of mental activity related to a single concept learned. Reflection on the learning process solidifies the content

     8

    Encouraging Reflection in the Physics Classroom

    knowledge, increases motivation by reminding the student of learning taken place, and improves

    *ability to reflect both as a reflection-on-action after the fact and as reflection-in-action, as the

    steps taken are made explicit. Reflection which refers to a completed activity in reference to a

    **frame or result is referred to as reflection-on-action by Schön (1987). Metacognitive

    development is assured when reflection on the action of learning is recorded. Thus, a learning commentary will encourage reflection by identifying the phenomenon, establishing a context for the phenomenon, finding a means of predicting the phenomenon and codifying the circumstances under which the means of prediction is valid.

     Assign observation logs on demonstrations or videos of a phenomenon. Reflective observation logs, like reading logs will develop reflective skill. The student must think about what will be written while he/she is doing the learning. Observations of important data, thoughts on related phenomena, memories of similar occurrences, questions about the materials or set-up, etc. are recorded. In addition to developing communication skill, a log is a journal of student reflection. Observation logs should be assigned early in the year because the skills developed are used to prevent defensive arguing amongst students and other ways learning can go wrong later (Schön, 1987, p. 168). It may be compared to summative assessment results and thus used to identify weaknesses in student thinking (e.g. valuations of importance, or scope of applicability).

    Thus, an observation log will encourage reflection by identifying the phenomenon, establishing a context for the phenomenon and, ideally, beginning to find a means of predicting the phenomenon.

     Assign reading logs of chapter readings. Reflective reading logs will develop reflective skill (Gearhart, 2009). The student must think about what will be written while he/she is doing the reading. Thoughts, memories, valuations, learned concepts, notes on difficulties, etc. are

     9

    Encouraging Reflection in the Physics Classroom

    recorded. In addition to developing communication skill and improving literacy, a log is a journal of student reflection. As observation logs (described on p. 9), reading logs should be assigned early in the year because the skills developed are used to prevent defensive arguing amongst students and other ways learning can go wrong later (Schön, 1987, p. 168). Also as observation logs (described on p. 9), it may later be compared to summative assessment results and thus used to identify weaknesses in student thinking. Thus, a reading log of an appropriate

    reading could encourage reflection by identifying the phenomenon, establishing a context for the phenomenon, finding a means of predicting the phenomenon and codifying the circumstances under which the means of prediction is valid.

     Develop interactive lectures. Interactive lectures requiring peer discussion of concepts has been popularized by Mazur (Mason & Singh, 2010). Giving an answer and defending it to other students reinforces the need for and proper use of vocabulary while simultaneously developing reflection. This improves scientific literacy. Each student‟s defense is a fallback to

    *learned concepts and constructed understandings. This allows the instructor a formative

    assessment of student understanding of presented concepts and prior knowledge. Properly developed, an interactive lecture will elicit from a student and require him/her to describe his/her “own largely tacit knowing-in-action” which prevents the learning cycle from going wrong

    (Schön, 1987, p. 138). The listening students develop a critical thinking skill by deciding if such a defense aligns with their own understandings. Thus, an interactive lecture, if properly designed and employed, will encourage reflection by identifying the phenomenon, establishing a context for the phenomenon, finding a means of predicting the phenomenon and codifying the circumstances under which the means of prediction is valid.

     10

Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email
cust-service@docsford.com