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Title: The Nature of Student Thinking and Its Implications for the Use of Learning Progressions to Inform Classroom Instruction
Authors: Alonzo, Alicia
Elby, Andrew
Issue Date: Jun-2014
Publisher: Boulder, CO: International Society of the Learning Sciences
Citation: Alonzo, A. & Elby, A. (2014). The Nature of Student Thinking and Its Implications for the Use of Learning Progressions to Inform Classroom Instruction. In Joseph L. Polman, Eleni A. Kyza, D. Kevin O'Neill, Iris Tabak, William R. Penuel, A. Susan Jurow, Kevin O'Connor, Tiffany Lee, and Laura D'Amico (Eds.). Learning and Becoming in Practice: The International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2014. Volume 2. Colorado, CO: International Society of the Learning Sciences, pp. 1037-1041.
Abstract: Underlying much of the work on learning progressions (LPs) is a strong though often tacit assumption that student thinking is theory-like and context-independent. In this work-in-progress, we use both theoretical perspectives on the nature of novices' knowledge and empirical evidence of the context-dependent variability of students' reasoning in physics to question this assumption and to argue that characterizing students in terms of LP "levels" inadequately captures their understanding of force and motion. We then analyze one teacher's use of LP-based data to reason about student thinking and instructional responses. While the teacher reasoned fluidly using LP levels, he more frequently used finer-grained knowledge elements and contextual factors to interpret student thinking; and these finer-grained interpretations led to more actionable instructional implications. Thus, while recognizing LPs as models (imperfect representations) of student thinking, we argue that their assumption of "levels" of student understanding may limit their utility for classroom decision-making.
Appears in Collections:ICLS2014

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