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Analysis of Reasoning Paths of Engineering Students

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

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Paper Authors


Genaro Zavala Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico & Universidad Andres Bello, Santiago, Chile Orcid 16x16

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Genaro Zavala is Full Professor of Physics and Director of Educational Innovation in the School of Engineering and Sciences at Tecnologico de Monterrey. Also, he is currently collaborating with the School of Engineering of the University Andres Bello at Santiago, Chile. Professor Zavala is National Researcher Level 1 of the National System of Researchers of Mexico and leads the Physics Education Research and Innovation Group. He works with the following research lines: conceptual understanding of students on subjects of physics, transfer of understanding between the different areas of knowledge, use of technology in learning, impact of using innovative learning environments and development of assessment tools. He has 76 articles in refereed journals and conferences, over 450 citations according to the ISI Web of Science, 6 books, 13 book chapters, 139 national and international presentations in countries like Korea, Denmark, Hungary, Cuba, United States, Chile, Ecuador and Argentina and 29 international workshops in Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Italy. Genaro Zavala was appointed to the editorial board of the Physical Review Special Topics-Physics Education Research journal of the American Physical Society for the period 2015-2018 and is currently the coordinator of the Topical Group: Evaluation of Learning and Instruction of the International Group for Research and Teaching of Physics (GIREP by its French acronym). Dr. Zavala is a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) where he is currently a member of the Committee on Research in Physics Education (RIPE) and elected member of Leadership Organizing Physics Education Research Council (PERLOC).

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Angeles Dominguez Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico & Universidad Andres Bello, Santiago, Chile Orcid 16x16

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Angeles Dominguez is a Professor of the Department of Mathematics within the School of Engineering, a researcher at the School of Education, and the Director of the Master of Education Program at the Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico. Also, she is currently collaborating with the School of Engineering at the University Andres Bello at Santiago, Chile. Angeles holds a bachelor degree in Physics Engineering from Tecnologico de Monterrey and a doctoral degree in Mathematics Education from Syracuse University, NY. Dr. Dominguez is a member of the Researchers’ National System in Mexico (SNI-1) and has been a visiting researcher at Syracuse University, at UT-Austin and at Universidad Andres Bello. She teaches undergraduate courses in Mathematics, graduate courses in Education, and is a thesis advisor on the master and doctoral programs on education at the Tecnologico de Monterrey. Her main research areas are: models and modeling, use of technology to improve learning, gender issues in STEM.

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There are several factors that have an effect on physics learning for engineering students, a wide range that goes from strong alternate conceptions to factors such as attitudes toward their learning or expectations of the use of physics in their other courses during their undergraduate education or even further, to their professional practice when they graduate. One of the factors that have been proved to have a strong effect when using active learning strategies has been students’ reasoning. There are studies that show physics learning do not correlate to students’ reasoning level for traditional teaching. On the other hand, physics learning has a positive correlation to students’ reasoning level for those taking active learning physics classes. There are several instruments to assess reasoning, such as the Lawson test. This test is well known among the physics education research community and used very often to measure fundamental reasoning elements through simple context situations. The test consists of 12 pairs of multiple-choice items in which, for each pair, the second item consists on the different reasoning students might have to answer the first item. Although Lawson test’s results have been documented for several and different studies, most often the use is limited to analysis using the general score or at most, using the different Lawson test levels of reasoning. The objective of this study was to conduct an in-depth examination of the tests results by analyzing students’ paths for each pair of items. To that end, 500 undergraduate engineering students responded the Lawson Test. For each pair of items, the analysis looked at the most common students' paths when answering the question correctly or incorrectly. By combining the results for each dimension of the test, an in-depth analysis on students' reasoning was performed. Moreover, by characterizing students’ paths, we believe that physics education researchers will have another tool to design activities to develop students’ reasoning skills and therefore, increase students’ physics learning.

Zavala, G., & Dominguez, A. (2017, June), Analysis of Reasoning Paths of Engineering Students Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27590

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