Student Explanations in the Context of Computational Science and Engineering Education

[The following blog post refers to the article found here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07370008.2018.1539738] When we started our investigation of the learning benefits of integrating computation within engineering domains, we realized that students experienced difficulties throughout the learning process.  As part of a design-based research study in a materials science and engineering course, first-year engineering students were exposed to computational assignments designed to introduce programming concepts as well as disciplinary concepts. Specifically, we confirmed what we had called the transparency paradox: while some students asked for additional transparency to access the underlying models that were represented by some simulations, students struggled to deal with Read More …

Graphing Science Concepts

[The following post refers to the newly-published article found here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07370008.2018.1539736] Imagine you are a typical eighth grade student. Maybe you know a lot of science facts and terminology, but haven’t quite put it all together yet. You’re given the following graphing challenge: in the graph space below draw four x’s in places that would represent objects that would sink in water and four o’s in places that would represent objects that would float in water. When you’re done, draw a line to separate all possible x’s from all possible o’s. Go ahead, sketch it out on some scratch paper. How Read More …

Flexibility in Prospective Teachers’ Mathematical Thinking

By Chepina Rumsey and Ian Whitacre (Newly published article here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07370008.2018.1491580) As educators who prepare prospective elementary teachers (PTs) to teach math, it’s easy to get stuck in the idea that the PTs are lacking critical knowledge and mathematical understanding. At the same time, we tell our PTs to be wary of labels and of making assumptions about what their future students know. We ask them to look beyond “low” versus “high-achieving” groups and beyond labels like “smart” and “weak at math.” Rather than focusing on what children do not understand, we encourage PTs to start with what the children do Read More …