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Examining the Relationships Among Intuition, Reasoning, and Conceptual Understanding in Physics

Mila Kryjevskaia, North Dakota State University
Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
PAT C-520
It is a common expectation that, after instruction, students will consciously and systematically build arguments that start from learned concepts and principles and lead to well-justified predictions. When student performance on course exams does not reveal such patterns, it is often assumed that students do not possess a suitable understanding of the physics or are deficient in their ability to reason. Psychological research on thinking and reasoning, however, seems to suggest that, in many cases, thinking processes follow paths that are strikingly different from those outlined above. A set of theoretical ideas, referred to broadly as dual process theory, asserts that human cognition relies on two largely independent thinking systems. The first of these systems is fast and intuitive, while the second is slow, logically deliberate, and effortful. In an ongoing project focusing on student reasoning in Physics, we have been developing and applying various methodologies (e.g., paired questions, eye-tacking techniques) that allow us to disentangle reasoning, intuition, and conceptual understanding in Physics. We then use the dual process theory to account for the observed patterns in student responses. Although relatively little is known about the complex relationships among intuition, reasoning, and conceptual understanding, insight into these relationships is important for both researchers and practitioners. Data will be presented and implications for instruction will be discussed.​
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