Understanding Student Difficulties by Listening to What They are Saying
AAPT Summer Meeting, Greensboro, NC
Traditionally, information and knowledge are seen as objects that can be transmitted to a student by the instructor or the textbook. I will consider an alternative view of communication. In this view, information and knowledge are constructed as an act of negotiation of meaning between the instructor/researcher and learner. We all readily recognize that students may misunderstand what we tell them in a physics class. What about the other direction? How can we be certain that we correctly understand students? intended meaning when they talk to us? Traditionally researchers have argued that many students believe a constant force is needed to sustain a constant rate motion, or possess a reasoning primitive: ?force as mover?. Having examined examples from existing research on students? difficulties with force and motion, I will make the case that students? explanations do not support these interpretations.