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Co-development of conceptual understanding and critical stance An essential condition for science learning Laurence Viennot PRES Sorbonne Paris Cité, University.

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Presentation on theme: "Co-development of conceptual understanding and critical stance An essential condition for science learning Laurence Viennot PRES Sorbonne Paris Cité, University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Co-development of conceptual understanding and critical stance An essential condition for science learning Laurence Viennot PRES Sorbonne Paris Cité, University Paris-Diderot LDAR

2 Multiple objectives … Engage students with physics Simplify Help students construct a first idea of NOS: inquiry, reasoning Consistency as a goal (NOS), as a need (reasoning) Highlight links between phenomena, between theories and phenomena Develop critical stance in students Beyond « Whaouh effects »

3 Multiple optimisms -… a pedagogy using an inquiry-based approach that succeeds in developing excitement about science EC-Rocard’s 07 -“(…) through science education that is based on inquiry, an approach that reproduces in the classroom the learning process of scientists: formulating questions, doing experiments, collecting and comparing data, reaching conclusions, and extrapolating these findings to more general situations. Allende 08 -(“Rocard “ et al.) argued that a ‘reversal of school science-teaching pedagogy from mainly deductive to inquiry-based methods’ was more likely to increase ‘children’s and students’ interest and attainment levels while at the same time stimulating teacher motivation’ – a view with which we concur. Osborne & Dillon « Nuffield » 08

4 Oversimplification: Some intrinsic risks -Wish to show + belief that seeing is understanding -« Echo-explanation » : mirroring students’ common ways of reasoning - Ignoring some variables, phenomena : conceptual reduction - Uncontrolled generalisation - « All-or-nothing » approach - … As a result: serious inconsistencies Web site EPS-MUSE; Viennot 2014

5 « Seeing is understanding » (NOT necessarily) Wanda Kaminski A ray box to ‘show’ rectilinear propagation? As if rays could be seen : a common ideaSomething went wrong?

6 A student: Emergency blanket… aluminium (all agree) Some experiments Conclusion: With aluminium, you cannot protect against cold (no comment) *DVD Acad. of sciences (FR), of Technologies, DGESCO, 2010 Uncontrolled generalisation Radiative process ignored Explicit inconsistency A model sequence * : how to protect against cold? Hot water Ice cube

7 Oversimplification: intrinsic risks Teachers’ and students’ critical faculty: an essential condition to good quality learning Perhaps the most difficult, and yet the most important kind of event to create in the classroom is critical dialogue, which recognises that inquiry proceeds by being critical of proposed ideas. It cannot help that essentially no examination questions ever require the student to offer a criticism, even the simplest. Such a focus on being critical is surely one of the greatest deficiencies that the movement for inquiry based learning needs urgently to face. Ogborn 2012

8 Moreover, a common view: Students’ « competences », in particular critical faculty, is what matters It should be our primary goal Concepts will come after, as a secondary goal

9 Competences first, concepts later Can we help students develop their critical faculty without a conceptual basis? Without an access to a conceptual structure, can students understand that science aims at a unified (as much as possible) description of the material word? - There is a real danger that Inquiry-based learning presents scientific knowledge as “knowledge in pieces”. Ogborn These students...(France, end upper second. 2013) see physics as disordered and anarchical. Zabulon In our search for a possible explanation for the strikingly parallel decline in physics achievements for the «specialist» at upper secondary school, we have established a set of possible factors.(…) Several reports have pointed out that many students do not see the connection between the mathematics in the math class and the mathematics they actually use in physics (…). Lie et al Nordic Studies in Ed

10 Two investigations about a hot air balloon Viennot & Décamp 2013 Décamp & Viennot 2014 An investigation about radiocarbon dating Viennot 2004 Mathé & Viennot 2009 Reacting to a teaching ritual Analysing texts from the internet Co-development of critical stance and conceptual understanding: a few research investigations

11 pOpO pOpO pOpO pOpO A hot air balloon …a total mass of… Whatever the temperature of the air in the balloon, its pressure will be the same as the surrounding air. (……….) …Show that to achieve the lift off…must be heated to about ….° C. A typical exercise: A hot air balloon For instance: Since the balloon is open to the atmosphere, the pressure in the balloon is the same as the pressure outside the balloon. D.C. Giancoli, Physics (6th ed): Instructor Resource Center CD-ROM, Prentice Hall, 2005 Viennot 2004

12 Archimedes’ upthrust : a matter of weights M air-inside =  air-inside V M air-outside- sameV =  air-outside V W basket+… + gM air-inside = gM air-outside- sameV T in p in = p out = p 0 T out W  = M mol p 0 /RT

13 Serious consequences pOpO pOpO pOpO pOpO g Archimedes, where are you? But…

14 p in = p out p in > p out  p in = -  in g  h  p out = -  out g  h  in <  out p in > p out W Global and local reconciled hh Global Archimedes OK Local OK Aperture Viennot 04 Top  h p

15 …, you got me thinking, me, even if it’s difficult, it’s fine to think…We learn much more…I have learnt a lot. - Why is it the first time someone tells me this? -You made me think: thank you - Provided we are taught how to do it Investigation 1, about preceding exercise University students1 st year, individual interviews* N=15 Students were not critical at first (idem for teachers N>100 ) pOpO pOpO pOpO pOpO * « Same » results in groups Then, after an exigent discussion Important? Worth it? YES 15/15

16 Students journalists' reactions … Mathé-Viennot 2009 “...The density of a gas depends on the pressure and the temperature. As for the pressure, it is the same inside and outside, because of the opening at the bottom of the envelope, through which the air can spread. As for the temperature, warming the air makes it less dense, therefore less heavy...” …to a simulated popularisation paper including the elements below: Investigation 2

17 14 trainee science journalists interviewed. pOpO pOpO pOpO pOpO Mathé-Viennot 2009 Name and “scientific origin” From the start First oral question about the hypothesis Argument of symmetry Step 1b Local explanation Step 1b Origin of Archimedes’ upthrust and link with the pressure gradient Step 1c Plotting of the graph Steps 1d and 1e When asked if they felt able to explain Step 2 Nuno (  ) C0C0 A / CAAA Ludovic (  ) C0C0 AAAC Laurence (  ) C0C0 AAA / CA Adeline (  ) AA / C Céline (  ) A / C Côme (  ) AC Damien (  ) AC Dima (  ) AA / C Anna (  ) AA / C ()() C0C0 AAC Emmanuelle (  ) C0C0 AA / C Laura (  ) AAC Thomas (  )AC ‘A’ indicates when the students clearly showed their awareness of the incoherence. ‘C 0 ’ indicates some signs of a critical attitude from the start, not yet focused on the hypothesis (cf. Table 1, col. 4). ‘C’ indicates when the students first used their awareness of the incoherence to criticize the article or to retrospectively criticize their own attitude during the interview. Steps in students’ intellectual paths: Awareness of the incoherence and critical attitude

18 Students journalists' reactions: to sum up pOpO pOpO pOpO pOpO Mathé-Viennot 2009 Name and “scientific origin” From the start First oral question about the hypothesis Argument of symmetry Step 1b Local explanation Step 1b Origin of Archimedes’ upthrust and link with the pressure gradient Step 1c Plotting of the graph Steps 1d and 1e When asked if they felt able to explain Step 2 Nuno (  ) C0C0 A / CAAA Ludovic (  ) C0C0 AAAC Laurence (  ) C0C0 AAA / CA Carine (  ) AA / C Adeline (  ) AA / C Céline (  ) A / C Côme (  ) AC Damien (  ) AC Dima (  ) AA / C Anna (  ) AA / C ()() C0C0 AAC Emmanuelle (  ) C0C0 AA / C Laura (  ) AAC Thomas (  )AC Increased conceptual mastery Awareness theeeenCritical stance Investigation 3

19 Question To which extent the way students’ critically analyse a very incomplete explanation is linked to, and/or develops along with their comprehension of the topic ?

20 Two investigations about a hot air balloon Viennot & Décamp 2013 Décamp & Viennot 2014 An investigation about radiocarbon dating Viennot 2004 Mathé & Viennot 2009 Reacting to a teaching ritual Analysing texts from the internet Co-development of critical stance and conceptual understanding

21 Analysing some internet texts about radiocarbon dating Investigation 3 N 0 ??? No decay in the atmosphere? N=N 0 exp (-t/  )  =5730 years

22 Radio carbon dating : some crucial conceptual items … [ 14 C ] living organisms+ atmosphere uniform [ 14 C] living organisms+atmosphere constant in time ????? Radioactive decay 14 C  14 N + electron+ antineutrino Creation « Cosmic » neutrons + 14 N  14 C + proton Time rate decay 14 C = time rate creation 14 C « same t-rate » ????? Time rates V/s existing numbers, 14 C dN C /dt= - N C (1/  ) exp (-t/  ) Total number  [ 14 C] + [ 14 N]  N T constant in time Transitory phase adaptation through factor N C beyond N=N 0 exp (-t/  )  =5730 years

23 Adaptation through factor N : an analogy In a country Number of people living in towns U Number of people living in countryside C U+C= constant in time Move from town to countryside 10% per year Move from countryside to town 40% per year Steady state: 0,1 U ss = 0,4 C ss  U ss = 4C ss Transitory states: U > U ss  dU/dt exit > 0,4 U ss and dC/dt exit  0,1 C ss  U↓ and C  U  U ss  dU/dt exit  0,4 U ss and dC/dt exit > 0,1 C ss  U  and C↓

24 Radiocarbon dating, beyond N=N 0 exp (-t/  ) … ????? A series of texts (T1, …, T6) from popularisation literature + web, providing more and more elements of information to the reader. Investigation 3

25 Some texts about radiocarbon dating: more and more complete T1T2T3T4T5T6 14 C decay after death; known law. X Creation process: « cosmic » neutron on nitrogen X Need: N 0 death known x 14 C/ 12 C ratio is uniform in living beings xX Exponential decay law X 14 C/ 12 C in living beings is constant in time XX Rate of creation (d 14 C/dt) is constant in time X 14 C produces nitrogen * Decay vs creation: Same rate X Same rate -> Steady state X Transit. regime, adjustment xX N and 14 C : sum is constant in time X Multiplicative 14C decay rate. Adaptation through factor N 0 X

26 Prospective teachers, 4th year at university Goal: observing their successive reactions after reading each of these texts Ten interviews

27 PhaseWhat students are asked forsourceAspects of the discussion Step 1Did you hear about Radiocarbon dating … Read T1 … What do you think? Need more? T1 The interviewer is attentive to students arguments, « mca » reactions, questions. Low input from interviewer Step 2Read T2 … What do you think? Need more? T2 Idem  Step 3 Read T3 …Idem  T3 Idem  Step 4 Read T4 …Idem  T4 Idem  + (if not previously raised) a question : « same rate »: coincidence? Step 5 Read T5 …Idem  T5 Idem  Step 6 Read T6 …Idem  T6 The interviewer is attentive to students arguments, « mca » reactions, questions. Strong input from interviewer. Step 7Global evaluation of the designExpressing feelings 27 The interviews: overall structure

28 Coding the interviews (thematic analysis) Conceptual level Extended list of conceptual statements « cci »+ « emergent» ones, e.g. 14 C  12 C + … Critical and meta cognitive-affective level (« mca ») Agreement in the end of a step  Half-hearted agreement in the end of a step ≈ Question posed about a detaildl Question posed about a « crucial » pointcq Satisfaction after additional information m+ It is what I needed. I had forgotten. It’s more precise. Frustration because of insufficient explanation m- I wanted an answer, it doesn’t tell us anything more. It doesn’t explain why … It leaves more questions unanswered than before.

29 Some results Presentation restricted to results about: Critical attitude and meta cognitive affective aspects : « mca »

30 S1S1 S2S2 S3S3 S4S4 S5S5 S6S6 S7S7 Prel  m+- cq m- cq 3 m+- cq 1 m- cq 3 m+  4 Bela ≈ dl  dl cq m- cq 3 m- cq 2 m- cq 1 m+  3 Lamb ≈ dl≈ dl 3 m-m- m- cq m- cq 2 m+  3 Olli  m+  dl 2 m- cqm- cq 2 m+  3 Mack  m+ m- dl cqm- cq m+  3 Iago ≈ m- dl  cq ≈ m- m+  2 Boul ≈  m+ m- cq m+  2,5 Vivi  m- cq m+  ≈ m-m- cq 2  3 Tann ≈ dl  m+ dl  m+   m+  4 Thib  m- cq m+  ()()m+  4 notations  OK ≈ OK end of step dl ask « details »crucial question cq unanswered cq answered m+ happy with a new piece of information m- frustrationLikert scale 1>4

31 S1S1 S2S2 S3S3 S4S4 S5S5 S6S6 S7S7 Prel  cq cq 3 cq 1 cq 3  4 Bela ≈ dl  dl cq cq 3 cq 2 cq 1  3 Lamb ≈ dl≈ dl 3 cq cq 2  3 Olli  dl 2 cq cq 2  3 Mack  dl cq cq  3 Iago ≈ dl  cq ≈  2 Boul ≈  cq  2,5 Vivi  cq  ≈cq 2  3 Tann ≈ dl  dl   4 Thib  cq  ()() m+m+ 4 notations  OK ≈ OK end of step dl ask « details »crucial question cq unanswered cq answered m+ happy with a new piece of information m- frustrationLikert scale 1>4 Questions asked by students

32 S1S1 S2S2 S3S3 S4S4 S5S5 S6S6 S7S7 Prel  m+ m- m-m-m+ m-m-m- m+  4 Bela ≈  m- m-m-m-m- m+  3 Lamb ≈≈ m- m- m- m+  3 Olli  m+  m-m-m- m+  3 Mack  m+ m-m-m- m+  3 Iago ≈ m-  m+  2 Boul ≈  m+ m-m-m- m+  2,5 Vivi  m- m+  ≈ m-m-  3 Tann ≈  m+   m+  4 Thib  m- m+  ()()m+  4 notations  OK ≈ OK end of step dl ask « details »crucial question cq unanswered cq answered m+ happy with a new piece of information m- frustrationLikert scale 1>4 « mca » aspects

33 At first, agreement expressed (strong or half-hearted agreement, questions about « details », new pieces of information welcome, (« I had forgotten », « it’s what I was missing ») After the first crucial question, only crucial questions, no agreement, frustration expressed (I wanted an answer, it doesn’t tell us anything more. It doesn’t explain why … It leaves more questions unanswered than before.) In the end, strong satisfaction expressed, anecdotal questions explicitly left aside. Typical progression

34 Co-development of critical attitude and conceptual understanding Critical attitude Conceptual progress First crucial question Questions about « details » Only crucial questions Time

35 Question To which extent the way students’ critically analyse a very incomplete explanation is linked to, and/or develops along with their comprehension of the topic ? Research results suggest: To a large extent: these two processes are strongly interdependent

36 Interest of promoting a Co-development of conceptual understanding (including a math component) and critical stance The value of « concept-driven interactive pathways » In teaching practice Stressing coherence and links (in particular)

37 Concept-driven interactive pathway Centered on conceptual development and critical attitude, coherence Interactive: intellectual interaction with teacher and/or other students Progressive: each step may serve to construct the next step 37 Examples in next talk From subtractive to multiplicative

38 – Extreme conceptual reduction: There is a price to pay, risks of inconsistency, of consistency not being valued. – Keep simplification under control, need to be very careful in case of extreme conceptual reduction, mind rituals – Students’ reactions: They appreciate consistency, need to reach a threshold of comprehension before daring to express their frustration in this respect,need: co-development of critical thinking and conceptual comprehension. Provided we are taught how to do it – Goal: reconciling various reasons for liking science, – Showing that science aims at a unified « description » of the world: value of stressing conceptual coherence and links, role of math. pOpO pOpO pOpO pOpO Concluding remarks

39 – Nourish a more balanced discussion about the objectives (content/ competences) and modalities of physics teaching (with MOOCs, critical dialogue to be preserved) – In particular, see « active learning » as compatible with several types of learning activities, including critical dialogue. You made me think – Relativise the merits of any « method », choices to be content-related, thorough discussions needed, banish rigidity – Need to propose various approaches and means to be used in class practice, thus enlarging the range of teachers’ choices. ex: “More Understanding with Simple Experiments” Concluding remarks … Education, MUSE Springer 2014

40 Thank you for your attention

41 41 Thus in the UK, the issue became how to develop science courses genuinely designed for the whole school population. This became something of a national obsession, not shared by other countries. One slogan devised for this was “Relevance”. Complex issues need complex solutions, but they generally get simple slogans to encapsulate and make memorable these solutions: “Relevance”, “Ask Nature”,“Science for All”, “Hands On”, “Science Workshop”, “Learning by Doing”. MaoZedong had a genius for inventing them, in a very different context. Be wary of these slogans. They are needed, even essential, to help people remember the point and perhaps to focus energy and enthusiasm. But they rarely speak plainly. I remember being asked near the start of my second development project Advancing Physics, what its slogan would be. I was at first embarrassed to find that I had no good answer. Maybe “Variety”, I said – if you want to appeal to more people you have to offer more ways of being attractive. The answer suggests its own limits. It cannot be right to focus a whole course on being attractive, at any cost. So there must be a basic truthfulness to the nature of the subject – in this case physics. But now this is not a slogan, but the statement of a complex problem. I cannot say that I am sorry, even if it makes it hard to tell people what is the ‘essential new idea’ behind Advancing Physics. In fact, I am suspicious of any educational development that passionately believes in its own slogans. I do not much believe in one-shot solutions – ‘magic bullets’. I conclude that a theory that provides guidance on producing teaching materials will suffer the same difficulty: that simple slogans encapsulating its ideas are needed, but are also dangerous. Ogborn, J Curriculum development as practical activity In K. Kortland (ed.): Designing Theory- Based Teaching-Learning Sequences for Science Education. Utrecht: Cdβ press, Un grand acteur de développements curriculaires (UK)

42 MUSE - more understanding with simple experiments The main goals to go beyond excitement by helping students to get more understanding from simple experiments; to propose teachers various approaches and means to be used in class practice thus enlarging the range of their choices. The target audience includes: In-service teachers Pre-service teachers Physics education and physics education research communities

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44 Alarming reports Still worth, most of the students think that there is no link between mathematics and physics, a domain in which all the results are easily obtained (without any work or reflection!) and “with the hands”. An example: students who had to choose freely a topic for scientific investigation in a scientific module where surprised and disappointed to discover than the notion of worm’s hole necessitated to call on physical concepts and mathematical tools presently out of their reach, that they would see at best in Master 1 or 2. In practice, it would seem that the “intuitive” approach, that was thought motivating because modern, turned into a disaster on several respects. It leads the less brilliant students to believe that physics can be understood without any effort, just with words. This induce students into building by themselves intuitive models (most of the time erroneous) to apprehend various physical phenomena, without giving them a view of physical concepts as organized in a hierarchy. These students don’t have even the bases that their predecessors previously acquired, and they see physics as disordered and anarchical. 61e National Conference of Union of Physics and Chemistry Teachers (UdPPC) Reports on round tables BUP, Dec. 2013, pp On the linking between secondary teaching and higher education in physics and chemistry Thomas Zabulon

45 Interpreting the Norwegian and Swedish trend data for physics in the TIMSS Advanced Study In our search for a possible explanation for the strikingly parallel decline in physics achievements for the «specialist» at upper secondary school, we have established a set of possible factors. Through various methods of analyses we can to some extent find possible explanations. In Norway, it is difficult to single out any one pronounced factor within the advanced physics courses themselves, with regards to enrolment and to the selection of students taking the courses, or the way in which physics is taught. However, the somewhat larger decline in Sweden can be partly explained by curriculum factors, since the most advanced mathematics course is no longer obligatory for those students who are studying advanced physics. Consequently, the interdependence between mathematics and physics is weakened in the present curriculum in Sweden compared to 1995 (Skolverket, 2009). And, as pointed out in the introduction, the scientific literacy and «science for all» movement might have weakened the use of mathematics in physics. The need for good mathematical competence for being able to master the actual physics courses has been addressed in this paper. Several reports have pointed out that many students do not see the connection between the mathematics in the math class and the mathematics they actually use in physics (e.g.Taber, 2006). S.LIE, C. ANGELL & A. ROHATGI 2012 Nordic Studies in Education, Vol. 32, pp. 177–195 Oslo

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47 Viennot L Teaching rituals and students' intellectual satisfaction, Phys. Educ. 41, Mathé, S., & Viennot, L Stressing the coherence of physics: Students journalists' and science mediators' reactions, Problems of education in the 21st century. 11 (11), Viennot, L Physics by inquiry: beyond rituals and echo-explanations, In New Trends in Science and Technology Education, G. Santoro (Ed.): “New Trends in Science and Technology Education” Conference, Modena, CLUEB, Bologna Viennot, L Physics education research and inquiry-based teaching : a question of didactical consistency, In K. Kortland (ed.): Designing Theory-Based Teaching-Learning Sequences for Science Education. Utrecht: Cdβ press, Viennot, L. & de Hosson Beyond a dichotomic approach, the case of colour phenomena. International Journal of Science Education, 34:9, Viennot, L Thinking in Physics, The pleasure of reasoning and understanding in physics. Springer/Grenoble Science. Viennot, L. & Décamp, N Analysing texts about radiocarbon dating: co- development of conceptual understanding and critical attitude, ESERA (+ Viennot FFPER 2013) More Understanding with Simple Experiments, Koupilova, Müller, Planinsic, Viennot : education, MUSE See also in French https://grenoble-sciences.ujf-grenoble.fr/pap-ebook/viennot/https://grenoble-sciences.ujf-grenoble.fr/pap-ebook/viennot/ pOpO pOpO pOpO pOpO

48 Ogborn, J WCPE Istanbul, keynote address, Curriculum Development in Physics: Not quite so fast! Zabulon, T On the linking between secondary teaching and higher education in physics and chemistry 61e National Conference of Union of Physics and Chemistry Teachers (UdPPC) Reports on round tables BUP, Dec. 2013, pp Lie, S., Angell, C. & Rohatgi, A Interpreting the Norwegian and Swedish trend data for physics in the TIMSS Advanced Study, Nordic Studies in Education, Vol. 32, pp. 177–195 Oslo Editorials, reports Léna, P. 2009b. Europe rethinks education, Science, 326, Rocard, Y. 2007, Science Education Now, Report EU22-845, European Commission, Brussels, education_en.pdf education_en.pdf Osborne, J.. Dillon, J Science Education in Europe : Critical Reflexions. Nuffield Foundation,,. Allende, J.E Academies Active in Education, Science, 321, Editorial.“(…) through science education that is based on inquiry, an approach that reproduces in the classroom the learning process of scientists: formulating questions, doing experiments, collecting and comparing data, reaching conclusions, and extrapolating these findings to more general situations


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