LA seminar Update

See other similar posts for more background:

For the LA seminar class on student attitudes about and approaches toward science learning , I ended up color-coding the statements from the CLASS, according to expert concensus: Green for agree, red for disagree, and black for no concensus. I didn’t tell them what the colors meant as they sorted them. To a really good measure, the favorable statements ended up being attributed to Ellen’s approach and the unfavorable responses attributed to Liza’s approach. This is what I expected would happen, and when I revealed what colors meant, it gave us the opportunity to talk about what we’d done and found in a new light.

Next time, I’ll have students jot down their explanations directly on sheets, and then have the class explore the wall, noting any that they think should/could be placed differently. Focus conversation around those. Students had really thoughtful explanations for why both would agree to certain statements, for different reasons. While the small group conversations were rich, the whole class was a little flat, and I suspect that getting a chance to explore the wall would enrich it.

All and all it was a good lesson that should be even better with some minor tweaks.

LA Seminar Brain Dump:

A lesson I’m teaching tomorrow for my LA seminar goes like this:

I.  For homework, students will have already read and wrote a 1-2 page reflection: Hammer, D. (1989). Two approaches to learning physics. The Physics Teacher, 664-670. 

2. At the start of class, students will start taking the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey. [8-12 minutes] Some time will be allotted for pairs to talk about any items, especially ones they answered differently. [12-8 minutes]

3. I have printed off large index cards with each of the survey statements. Groups will be given 8-10 of the survey statements and have to decide, how two students from the reading would respond to statement–would “Liza” be likely to agree to this statement, or “Ellen”, or both, or neither?  [20-25 minutes]

4. For whole-class discussion, a large Venn Diagram will have been made on the white board is for groups to place their choices and to give reasons for why.  Why do you think Ellen agree but not Liza? Why do you think both of them would agree? Etc. The hope here is that opportunities will arise to dig into each of these approach–both in terms of the reading and our own personal experiences. [20-25 minutes]

[I need to think through a little more clearly the logistics of how I want this to unfold]

5. I’m not committed to getting through all 41 statements (and it wouldn’t pay off), so with about 25 minutes remaining, I want to shifting the conversation to two questions [10-15 minutes]

(1) What are the upsides and downsides to approaching physics either like Ellen and Liza? (In terms of learning? Enjoyment? Doing well in school?)

(2) What are the factors that influence how students choose to approach physics?

[I need to think through this transition, and any need to go back to small groups, etc.]

6. Lastly, I want to just briefly share some of the research results from the CLASS [5-10 minutes]:

(1) Most physics courses negatively impact students attitudes, although there are some exceptions

(2) Student attitudes /approach impact their learning as measure by instruments such as FCI.

Note 1: Somewhere in here I want students to “score” their survey… or at least know what the expert responses are. I might do this just after they take it, but I could also have them identify the expert response for their index cards only, lastly, I could have them return to the surveys to score themselves just before I share results]…  I’m learning toward given that information on the index cards, so that can be part of the conversation when students talk about why/where they placed their index card.

Note 2: I worry somewhat about conflating David’s paper (and research) with the CLASS instrument (and research). They aren’t driving at exactly the same thing, but they are related enough, and I think they offer an opportunity for us to dig deeper into both. Sometimes, papers are worth digging into by themselves, but I’m finding it useful to access the ideas in papers by using other ideas/tools as levers– in this case,the CLASS is a tool that gives us leverage on the paper.

Note 3: I’ve had a lot of success in classes using whiteboard space this way. It makes thinking public during whole class discussion in a way that nicely structures turn-taking, but also splits the task up spatially and temporally. It’s also an opportunity to get up, move around, etc.

Blog at

Up ↑