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“The other side” of learning physics: positioning the subject
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education. (UMSER)
2015 (English)In: Researching the dynamics of teaching and learning science: Sociocultural and discursive approaches incorporating positioning theory, 2015Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

An enduring aim in educational research is to identify factors in teaching and learning, the curriculum, and the learning environment, operating at the classroom and school level, which can directly or indirectly explain variation in what students learn. This paper reports on how positioning theory (Harré & van Langenhove, 1999) can be used to consider social dimensions of learning physics from the perspective of the learner or “the other sides” of learning physics. Such a perspective provides insight into the learning process in a way that cannot be captured in pre- and post-tests, such as in traditional conceptual change approaches. The analysis draws on empirical data from two Swedish classrooms where students in upper secondary school prepare themselves for their final physics exam. In total, fifteen students were video-recorded and interviewed before their exam. Data was analysed with an analytical framework based on positioning theory. In this study all students, strong as well as weak, position themselves as dependent upon the book of formulas. Moreover, their collection of formulas (a book) takes a central position in their learning interactions, lending explanatory insight into findings from earlier research that a good performance in physics exams does not necessarily mean good conceptual understanding. In contrast to the Swedish curriculum, which stresses the importance of the student developing conceptual understanding and the capacity for inquiry, the students positioned themselves as successful physics learners based upon their capacity to make use of a specific book. These results foreground important contextual factors which can indirectly affect how and what kind of physics students learn in the classroom.

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URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-108228OAI: diva2:851608
European Science Education Research Association (ESERA 2015), 31 August - 4 September, 2015, Helsinki, Finland
Available from: 2015-09-07 Created: 2015-09-07 Last updated: 2016-08-31Bibliographically approved

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Berge, Maria
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