Monday, October 22, 2018 - 16:00
WNGR 116
Event Speaker: 
Liz Gire
Local Contact: 
Liz Gire

A physicists job is to make sense of the universe by identifying and solving physics problems. Unlike most physics textbooks, the universe has no solution manual and physicists need ways of evaluating our own solutions to the problems we consider - strategies like checking dimensions, making sure numbers are reasonable, examining special cases, and exploring the behavior of functions. This “solution evaluation” is just one aspect of physics sensemaking. Other aspects of physics sensemaking include identifying and refining problems, orienting ourselves to new problems, getting unstuck when we're stuck, and reflecting on the implications of a solution. To help students become more powerful physics sensemakers, my group has created an intermediate mechanics course for sophomore-level physics majors that has an explicit focus on physics sensemaking, particularly solution evaluation. I will talk about how the design of the course supports physics sensemaking and about the research we've been doing on how students make sense of physics problems. We've found that sophomore-level physics majors use many different strategies to evaluate solutions but that many students need support in selecting appropriate strategies and using these strategies in more expert-like ways. 

Refreshments will be offered half an hour before the colloquium in Weniger 379