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Andy Johnson presents at national educational research association

Andy Johnson, associate director of Center for Excellence for Math and Science, presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) this week.

He presented a poster in a session called "The Impact of Instructional Reform Strategies on Future Scientists and Teachers." The title of his poster is: Sociophysics Norms in an Innovative Physics Learning Environment

His presentation discusses productive patterns of classroom interaction and successful course reforms for the development of courses. According to Johnson, the ways that students talk to each other and how they interpret the instructor's actions can make great differences in their learning, particularly in inquiry-based classes.

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His paper describes results of research on patterns of social interactions in a college physics course for prospective elementary teachers. Students in this course developed physics concepts for themselves with support from particular pedagogical structures, collaborative group work, and special computer software. Data consisted of videotapes of class work, interviews, and collections of students' work.

This paper extends Yackel & Cobb's "sociomathematical" norms (1996) to the field of physics, and introduces two "sociophysics norms" that emerged in the course. These were class criteria for accepting evidence and the obligation for each group to have a scientific model of magnetic materials that they could support with acceptable evidence. Implications of this study are that classroom norms seem to be influenced by the instructor, by pedagogical structures and by students' actions, and that the development of norms seems to be part of the process of developing understanding.