Chem Ed Seminar – Prof. Andrew Elby (University of Maryland)

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1315 Seminar Hall
@ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Title: How Your Implicit Theory of Learning Influences Your Curriculum Writing

Abstract: At a conference, when a colleague and I examined student responses to questions about the direction of the static friction force in various situations, we both had strong ideas about how to write a small-group “active learning” module to promote deeper understanding. But our ideas were quite different. In this talk, I present the two contrasting modules and show how their differences can be traced to different theoretical orientations toward cognition and learning. I won’t claim that one module—or the theoretical framework loosely associated with it—is superior. Instead, I hope to illustrate two claims. One, I show how curriculum designers’ cognitive “theories” (frameworks), even if largely tacit during the act of creation, shape the resulting curricular modules. Two, I show how articulating and discussing our respective theoretical orientations and their influence on our curriculum writing enables a rethinking of long-standing module-writing habits.

Bio: After earning degrees in Chemistry & Physics, Physics, Philosophy & Physics, and Education, I taught high school physics before turning to physics and science education research, currently as a Professor of Science Education in the College of Education at the University of Maryland, College Park, with an Affiliate Professor appointment in the Department of Physics. My current research on university-level teaching and learning includes investigations of mathematical sense-making in the context of physics, students’ epistemological views about what counts as learning and understanding, and students’ use of online solutions and other resources. I also work on K-12 oriented projects including partnerships with elementary and middle school teachers.

Host: Prof. Ryan Stowe