Joe Olsen Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal Defense: A Comparison of Student and Theory-Based Evaluations of Explanation Quality in an Introductory Physics Course for Engineers

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Committee: Gerald Goldin, Suzanne White Brahmia, Juan Pablo Mejía Ramos, Charles Ruggieri

“ABSTRACT: In this proposal, I describe a project that seeks to use an explanation comparison task to elicit student preferences for explanations and compare student preferences to theory-based judgements about explanation quality. In the proposed work, I will analyze data from student judgments about pairs of explanations written by highly rated instructors concerning common questions in introductory physics. I will employ a novel quantitative method, a relative placement algorithm, to determine aggregate student opinion about which of the instructors’ explanations were best. I will also analyze student open ended responses concerning how they made judgements about explanations and compare student responses to research-based evaluations of the same explanations. Finally, the explanations themselves will be coded using a theory-driven coding method to determine what relationship, if any, exists between predicted explanation quality versus students’ perceived explanation quality. The results of this study can potentially deepen our knowledge concerning the perceived value of strategies that physics instructors use, tacitly or overtly, when generating explanations and may reveal both agreements and tensions between students’ expectations concerning explanation strategies and explanation strategies that are supported by evidence.”

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