[pccgrads] Heckler on "Why is scientific reasoning so hard, and what can we do about it?" Mon 11/6 at 4pm

UW PCC uwpcc at uw.edu
Fri Nov 3 11:44:16 PDT 2017

Why is scientific reasoning so hard, and what can we do about it?

Andrew Heckler (Ohio State University)

Physics Colloquium

Date: Monday, November 6, 2017 4:00 PM
Location: PAA A-102


Decades of cognitive psychology research has demonstrated that reasoning and decision making is often influenced by strong tendencies for people to reply quickly, use the most available information, and make unwitting assumptions and observations aligned with beliefs and experience. While these tendencies may optimize every-day living and survival, they run counter to dispositions necessary for scientific understanding and inquiry. I show empirical examples in the context of physics content commonly seen in classrooms. Some examples are based on simple conceptual questions, while other examples ask students to make inferences from tables of data in cases with or without significant prior beliefs about the data. The question is, how do we negotiate these natural and inevitable “cognitive contours” to help students more effectively learn science and reason scientifically? Two possibilities will be discussed. First, implement carefully designed, spaced, and interleaved mastery practice assignments in basic and essential skills to improve automated, fluent accuracy, and second, increase awareness and understanding of these cognitive contours to help instructors to make better instructional choices.​

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