Language and second teaching in physics learning.Abstract
Second teaching is a model of small group activity designed to follow initial instruction. Following Vygotsky's ideas, second teaching works to facilitate individual learning processes. The collective wisdom of a small group acts as a mentor to individual learners. Many nontraditional students do well in a learning environment where second teaching is fostered. Research involving students in an educational opportunity program at a technological university sheds light on small group physics learning and indicates a significant relationship between language development and conceptual physics Conceptual physics is a non-mathematical approach to studying physics, which was popularized by Paul G. Hewitt. It is believed that with a strong conceptual foundation in physics, students are better equipped to understand the equations and formulas of physics, and to make learning.
"Second teaching" (Novemsky, 1994, 1998) is an idea that was developed after a long period of observation of participants in an educational opportunity preparatory program at a public technological university. These students were successful in a small group pedagogical ped·a·gog·ic also ped·a·gog·i·cal
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of pedagogy.
2. Characterized by pedantic formality: a haughty, pedagogic manner. format (second teaching), following the initial presentation of new ideas "New Ideas" is the debut single by Scottish New Wave/Indie Rock act The Dykeenies. It was first released as a Double A-side with "Will It Happen Tonight?" on July 17, 2006. The band also recorded a video for the track. in lecture and/or text (first teaching). These students were learning introductory physics using Alan Van Heuvelen's Overview, Case Study Method (Van Heuvelen, 1991) that emphasizes conceptual learning and involves small group learning with step-sequenced materials involving explicit stepwise stepwise
incremental; additional information is added at each step.
stepwise multiple regression
used when a large number of possible explanatory variables are available and there is difficulty interpreting the partial regression guidance with verbal and visual representations.
Objectives of the Study
The discipline of physics has evolved into a culture of relatively homogeneous individuals who have developed their own established practice with characteristic behaviors and language. The nature of physics communication involves a very precise set of lexical items and linguistic structures that are particular to physicists and those in closely related disciplines.
To many students, standard English Stan·dard English
The variety of English that is generally acknowledged as the model for the speech and writing of educated speakers.
Usage Note: People who invoke the term Standard English enhanced with physics parlance Parlance - A concurrent language.
["Parallel Processing Structures: Languages, Schedules, and Performance Results", P.F. Reynolds, PhD Thesis, UT Austin 1979]. presents severe difficulties similar to the confusion encountered when confronted with a totally foreign language (Hogan & Maglienti, 2001; Lemke, 1990; Orr, 1987; Stoddard, et. al., 2002; Touger, 2000). Formal and precise language structures and vocabulary of scientific discourse tend to be distant from nontraditional physics learners and distinct from the natural language of students' peer cultures. An intervening process seems to be important for non-traditional learners to comprehend physics language and thereby gain access to physics content. An educational experiment at New Jersey Institute of Technology (Gautreau & Novemsky, 1997) provided strong evidence that a reform model of physics education with small group practice or "second teaching" appeared to contribute to significantly greater student success in introductory physics learning than conventional instruction (lecture, lab, and recitation rec·i·ta·tion
a. The act of reciting memorized materials in a public performance.
b. The material so presented.
a. Oral delivery of prepared lessons by a pupil.
b. ), particularly for non-traditional students who did not qualify for university admission under normal university admissions criteria.
Traditional and non-traditional physics students
Until recently, there was a custom in science education in the United States Education in the United States is provided mainly by government, with control and funding coming from three levels: federal, state, and local. School attendance is mandatory and nearly universal at the elementary and high school levels (often known outside the United States as the wherein students were labeled according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. early identification of unchanging un·chang·ing
Remaining the same; showing or undergoing no change: unchanging weather patterns; unchanging friendliness. abilities, such as spatial visualization, reasoning, and computation. Students were systematically categorized cat·e·go·rize
tr.v. cat·e·go·rized, cat·e·go·riz·ing, cat·e·go·riz·es
To put into a category or categories; classify.
cat as fit or unfit to learn physics. Introductory physics courses served as gatekeepers for eliminating or "weeding out" those who did not have these initial skills. Individuals who did not succeed in physics were summarily excluded and went on to other studies that were not so strictly protected.
The general rule seemed to involve identifying a potential physicist and cultivating that individual. Successful candidates tended to he those who were able to create an internal image from a verbal text and lecture. Candidates were expected to be adept at scientific perception and abstract reasoning, as well as advanced language usage skills for reading technically challenging texts with understanding. It was assumed that these prized students would develop the art of question formation and explanation as needed as needed prn. See prn order. . Implicit problem-solving skills, including problem categorization, logic, and mathematics, were also expected to be fully present as prerequisites for entering the exclusive gates to the physics classroom.
Many students graduate from high schools and enter colleges with major deficiencies in understanding the subject of physics, and disconnected from the subject as traditionally presented. Among the many possible causes of widespread failure of success in studies of physics are teachers' inability to teach physics; lack of preparation of students from previous courses; poor motivation on the part of students; the subject itself, often seen as boring and bearing no relation to real life; and difficult math that is involved. In particular, persons from minority cultures, women, persons with disabilities, and poorly prepared students were essentially left out of the physics stream, pursuing other studies and careers (Matyas & Malcom, 1991).
Women are among those who are seriously underrepresented un·der·rep·re·sent·ed
Insufficiently or inadequately represented: the underrepresented minority groups, ignored by the government. in physics, "the coldest science" (Brush, 1991, p. 404; Fehrs & Czujko, 1992). Tobias (1990), who explored exclusionary aspects of introductory physics courses, states that science courses are unnecessarily difficult, distasteful and even dull for many students. The emphasis on problem-solving, competition for grades and lack of community among students, lack of personalization of subject matter, combined with a perceived authoritarian teaching style, has extinguished ex·tin·guish
tr.v. ex·tin·guished, ex·tin·guish·ing, ex·tin·guish·es
1. To put out (a fire, for example); quench.
2. To put an end to (hopes, for example); destroy. See Synonyms at abolish.
3. motivation to learn for many students. A sociological theory Sociological Theory is a peer-reviewed journal published by Blackwell Publishing for the American Sociological Association. It covers the full range of sociological theory - from ethnomethodology to world systems analysis, from commentaries on the classics to the latest based on status in small groups versus status in classrooms in the presence of an authority of high status (a teacher) states that small group interaction can facilitate gains in self-esteem and self-efficacy (Meeker, 1981) so desperately needed in certain minority groups, as well as in females involved in physics and math. The underrepresentation of women in physics and physics-related subjects may be a more complex issue than previously described.
First teaching describes initial presentation of new subject matter and/or problem-solving techniques. A lecture, a laboratory experience, or a text provide possible formats, although in the context observed, a semi-traditional lecture format (lecture with provocative discussion) was used.
Second teaching is a practice that is based on two of Vygotsky's (1978, 1986) ideas. The first of these ideas involves the relationship of language and visual representations to learning. Rather than considering language and drawing purely as a means of communicating ideas, Vygotsky saw language and drawing as tools, as cultural means for developing logical and analytic thinking Noun 1. analytic thinking - the abstract separation of a whole into its constituent parts in order to study the parts and their relations
abstract thought, logical thinking, reasoning - thinking that is coherent and logical and learning. In a highly complex dynamic relationship between developmental and learning processes, Vygotsky argued that learning is converted into individual internal developmental processes in a "zone of proximal development Lev Vygotsky's notion of zone of proximal development (зона ближайшего развития), often abbreviated ZPD ," which is the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving problem solving
Process involved in finding a solution to a problem. Many animals routinely solve problems of locomotion, food finding, and shelter through trial and error. and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving with guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86).
Second teaching occurs when the collective wisdom of a collaborative group acts as a mentor to its individual members--for peer groups in general, this collective wisdom is likely to fall within the zone of proximal development for most of its individual members, somewhat beyond the actual level of each individual member. This collective wisdom is created and recreated through group collaboration See collaborative software. (Novemsky, 1998).
Design and Procedure
A carefully composed test of basic mechanics concepts was prepared. Identical pre- and posttests were administered to participating students at the beginning and end of a summer program. Forty-four non-traditional physics students (twenty-seven males and seventeen females) were asked to give written explanations for each of their chosen answers for five multiple-choice questions. Two sets of judges were selected. One set of physics-knowledgeable judges rated the level of physics knowledge on a ten-point scale for each student explanation. Another set of judges, selected for their ability to work with language clarity and coherence assessment (but who were unfamiliar with the physics concepts being tested), rated the level of clarity of language usage in the explanations. Each of the selected judges was given all 440 explanations in a random order. Each explanation was rated twice for physics knowledge and twice for language clarity. Judges' ratings were averaged to produce one physics knowledge score and one language clarity score for each explanation.
If clarity in physics language usage and physics understanding develop in concert, it would follow that there would be a high correlation between physics knowledge ratings and language clarity ratings. If a particular student's physics rating has increased over the course of a five-week program, that student's language rating would be likely to have improved as well. To test this, two difference scores were calculated for each student by subtracting pre-test ratings from post-test ratings for each of the two rating scales. Physics knowledge change scores were determined by subtracting pre-test physics knowledge ratings from post-test ratings. Similarly, language change scores were determined by subtracting pre-test language clarity ratings from post-test ratings. A correlation was calculated between these scores and across students.
Two different methods were used to determine gains in physics understanding. The first method was based on the number of correct multiple-choice responses. Pre- and post-tests, that contained five multiple-choice items each, were graded on a ten-point scale with two points for each correct answer. By subtracting pre-test scores from post-test scores, change scores were calculated. Overall gains greater than five points on a ten-point test demonstrated the effectiveness of Overview, Case Study Physics with second teaching for physics learning in non-traditional populations. Scores for females increased by 5.41 points, slightly more than the 5.11 difference for male students. The second procedure was derived from expert ratings of the physics knowledge of the students' explanations on the concept test.
Convergent evidence for positive change in physics knowledge was found. Overall, students' knowledge increased by 2.33 points (on a ten-point scale). With the exception of one student, all physics knowledge difference test scores were positive. Over the five-week program, ratings for males changed by 2.37 points while those for females changed by 2.28 points. Language clarity ratings were determined by the language-knowledgeable judges for each student's pre- and posttest post·test
A test given after a lesson or a period of instruction to determine what the students have learned. on a ten point scale. These ratings were averaged over five questions to produce average language clarity ratings for each student for both pre-and post-tests. Change ratings were calculated for each student by subtracting pre-test average language clarity ratings from post-test average ratings.
Difference in average language change was marginally significant at roughly one half point, approximately equal for both genders. Overall language clarity gains were small. Language clarity change ratings were considerably lower than physics knowledge change ratings. This finding did not reflect lack of success in pedagogical effectiveness, since physics learning, not language change, was the explicit aim of the course. Individual ratings in this measure changed in both positive and negative directions. Individual changes ranged from -2.5 to +2.9.
Correlation of Language Clarity and Physics Knowledge Change
A correlation was calculated between these difference scores across students to see if, in fact, as language clarity improves, physics knowledge also improves. For the overall population the finding of a significant correlation (correlation coefficient Correlation Coefficient
A measure that determines the degree to which two variable's movements are associated.
The correlation coefficient is calculated as: of 0.34, p<0.05) between these two variables was found. This significant finding supports the hypothesis that one of the cognitive factors which accounts for the success of second teaching in physics learning for non-traditional learners is the development of language in the context of learning physics. Males who experienced large gains in physics knowledge were likely to have large gains in language clarity. This finding suggests that for males, second teaching provides coupled progress in language and knowledge. As stated previously, female gains in knowledge and language clarity were equal to those of their male counterparts; however, for females, change in ratings of physics knowledge and change in ratings of language clarity were not coupled. The intriguing gender differences found in this study are presently undergoing further analysis.
This study suggests that second teaching serves as a useful form of pedagogy for developing scientific and technical discourse while learning a given domain of science. In ongoing research the author is attempting to replicate these findings and extend the population under investigation to high school students. This paper also provides evidence that language clarity is an important moderator of physics learning.
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