Andrew Elby

Andrew Elby
University of Maryland, College Park | UMD, UMCP, University of Maryland College Park · Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership

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113
Publications
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Publications

Publications (113)
Article
Science education researchers agree about the importance of evidence in science practices such as argumentation. Yet, disagreements and ambiguities about what counts as “evidence” in science classrooms pervade the literature. We argue that these ambiguities and disagreements can be viewed as falling along three fault lines: (i) the source of eviden...
Article
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[This paper is part of the Focused Collection on Curriculum Development: Theory into Design.] This paper proposes the rethinking of the division of labor between physics education research curriculum developers and classroom instructors. Historically, both curriculum developers and instructors have taken responsibility for fostering students’ conce...
Article
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[This paper is part of the Focused Collection on Curriculum Development: Theory into Design.] In the “standard” physics education research curriculum-development model, researchers are cast primarily as producers of curricula and instructors are cast primarily consumers, i.e., adopters and adapters. We illustrate a complementary model in which rese...
Conference Paper
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The importance of integrating computational thinking (CT) into existing school structures, like core content domains, has emerged from efforts to improve computer science education in the U.S. In the past, computer science has often been treated as an elective or enrichment activity, which limits students' exposure to foundational computing ideas,...
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Among mathematics teacher educators, a consensus has emerged that exemplary teaching involves attention to students’ thinking. This consensus stems, in part, from theoretical and empirical work highlighting the importance of teachers’ being able to make thoughtful in-the-moment decisions, building on students’ ideas to adjust the ongoing lesson. Si...
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Through analysis of a classroom lesson led by a decorated teacher, we illustrate how instructional practices favor students seeking empirical patterns at the expense of using mechanistic reasoning. In the lesson, when students spontaneously come up with hypothetical mechanisms to explain why a light bulb in an electric circuit does or does not ligh...
Article
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Professional problem-solving practice in physics and engineering relies on mathematical sense making—reasoning that leverages coherence between formal mathematics and conceptual understanding. A key question for physics education is how well current instructional approaches develop students’ mathematical sense making. We introduce an assessment par...
Conference Paper
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Educators have argued for the value of integrating the big ideas of computing, captured under the term computational thinking (CT), into subjects and classrooms across the K-12 spectrum. Working within a researcher-practitioner partnership, we developed activities designed to integrate CT into a fourth-grade mathematics classroom using the Sphero r...
Conference Paper
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A teachers' framing of their classroom interactions with students—their sense of “what’s going on here”—affects whether they attend and respond to the substance of students’ thinking, a central pillar of effective teaching in mathematics and science. Therefore, teacher educators would benefit from knowing how their pre-service teacher interns (aka...
Article
Mathematics and science education researchers focused on teacher education emphasize attention and responsiveness to student thinking as central to effective classroom practice. Being responsive to student thinking involves attending to the substance of students’ ideas—the meaning students are making—and pursuing that thinking, adjusting the flow o...
Chapter
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As part of their jobs, professional engineers engage in ethical, environmental, social, and economic negotiations with other engineers, managers, and with the public. Therefore, they need to understand the social impact of new technologies in a global context. However, research on students’ developing sense of engineering ethics often emphasizes th...
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Background While there has been increasing recognition of the importance of attending to students’ views about what counts as knowing and learning a STEM field, surveys that measure these “epistemological” beliefs are often used in ways that implicitly assume the fields, e.g., “physics,” to be a single domain about which students might have sophist...
Preprint
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What kind of problem-solving instruction can help students apply what they have learned to solve the new and unfamiliar problems they will encounter in the future? We propose that mathematical sensemaking, the practice of seeking coherence between formal mathematics and conceptual understanding, is a key target of successful physics problem-solving...
Article
As scientific models of student thinking, learning progressions (LPs) have been evaluated in terms of one important, but limited, criterion: fit to empirical data. We argue that LPs are not empirically adequate, largely because they rely on problematic assumptions of theory-like coherence in students’ thinking. Through an empirical investigation of...
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We analyze how participating in undergraduate research experiences (UREs) influenced physics students’ trajectories of participation within the community of practice of physics researchers. Students in the study participated in an elective seminar in which they were paired with graduate student and faculty mentors on physics research projects and p...
Conference Paper
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We describe and analyze our efforts to support Learning Assistants (LAs)—undergraduate peer educators who simultaneously take a 3-credit pedagogy course—in fostering equitable team dynamics and collaboration within a project-based engineering design course. Tonso and others have shown that (a) inequities can “live” in mundane interactions such as t...
Article
Problem solving in groups can be rich with tension for students. This tension may arise from conflicting approaches (conceptual and/or epistemological) and/or from conflict emerging in the social relations among group members. Drawing on video records of undergraduate students working collaboratively, we use three cases to illustrate the multifacet...
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Evidence from psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience suggests that cognition and emotions are coupled. Education researchers have also documented correlations between emotions (such as joy, anxiety, fear, curiosity, boredom) and academic performance. Nonetheless, most research on students’ reasoning and conceptual change within the learnin...
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Background Quantitative researchers have noted the impact of mentoring and support programming for students from underrepresented groups in engineering. Qualitative researchers have also noted the importance of student agency in persistence through marginalization. Nevertheless, challenges and questions remain in identifying practices which are eff...
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Background To explain educational problems such as student attrition, engineering education literature often focuses on the characteristics of individuals. In 2006, Ray McDermott and Hervé Varenne called for examining the “cultural construction” of educational problems, uncovering how multiple actors create and inscribe meaning to the educational p...
Article
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Mathematical sense-making—looking for coherence between the structure of the mathematical formalism and causal or functional relations in the world—is a core component of physics expertise. Some physics education research studies have explored what mathematical sense-making looks like at the introductory physics level, while some historians and “sc...
Article
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The relationship between ideology and learning remains insufficiently theorized and sparsely investigated in the Learning Sciences. Drawing on Stuart Hall’s theorization of ideology, Judith Butler’s notion of the (un)grievability of lives, and Sara Ahmed’s construct of stickiness, we illustrate how insights from critical social theory are indispens...
Conference Paper
We introduce technology-mediated teacher noticing (TMTN): a vision for the design and use of technology-mediated tools that takes seriously the need for teachers to attend to, interpret, and respond to their students’ thinking. This vision is situated at the intersection of research on teacher noticing, and on technology to support student thinking...
Article
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Undergraduate research can support students’ more central participation in physics. We analyze markers of two coupled shifts in participation: changes in students’ views about the nature of science coupled to shifts in self-efficacy toward physics research. Students in the study worked with faculty and graduate student mentors on research projects...
Conference Paper
Ford (2015) argues for viewing " scientific practice " not as a list of particular skills, but rather, more holistically as " sets of regularities of behaviors and social interactions " among scientists. This conceptualization of scientific practices foregrounds how they meaningfully connect to one another and are purposefully employed in order to...
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This study investigates how elite Turkish high school physics students claim to approach learning physics when they are simultaneously (i) engaged in a curriculum that led to significant gains in their epistemological sophistication and (ii) subject to a high-stakes college entrance exam. Students reported taking surface (rote) approaches to learni...
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Quantum mechanics can seem like a departure from everyday experience of the physical world, but constructivist theories assert that learners build new ideas from their existing ones. To explore how students can navigate this tension, we examine video of a focus group completing a tutorial about the "particle in a box." In reasoning about the proper...
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In collaborative small-group work, physics students need to both manage social conflict and grapple with conceptual and epistemological differences. In this paper, we document several outlets that students use as tools for managing social conflict when addressing quantum mechanics tutorials in clinical focus groups. These resources include epistemi...
Conference Paper
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Understanding the social, environmental, economic, and political impact of engineering is an important aspect of being a professional engineer. Responding to this need, engineering programs increasingly offer engineering ethics education. However, courses in engineering ethics as well as research on students' developing sense of engineering ethics...
Conference Paper
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Within research on retention and persistence in STEM, the concept of student agency is typically treated as a personal characteristic or as an element of coping and navigational strategies. The act of theorizing about one’s own experiences and persistence is under-explored as a source of taking agency. Through interviews with a woman in the first y...
Conference Paper
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Research on group work in STEM education has documented that in some cases, students’ relative expertise with respect to other group members can impact student participation in the discipline: expert-like students can help novice-like students gain conceptual understanding, the success of pairings depends on the complexity of the task at hand, and...
Article
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Responsive teaching, in which teachers adapt instruction based on close attention to the substance of students' ideas, is typically characterized along two dimensions: the level of detail at which teachers attend and respond to students' ideas, and the stance teachers take toward what they hear - evaluating for correctness vs. interpreting meaning....
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Research has documented a sharp decline in students' interest and persistence in science, starting in middle school, particularly among students from underrepresented populations. In working to address this problem, we can learn a great deal from positive examples of students getting excited about science, especially students who were previously di...
Article
In planning and teaching courses for engineering majors, physics instructors grapple with multiple instructional goals: extensive content coverage, quantitative problem solving, conceptual understanding, motivation, and more. The temptation is to treat these goals as mutually reinforcing or at least as not in conflict. We argue, however, that at le...
Conference Paper
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Systems thinking is an important component of engineering design thinking but one that is often difficult for beginning designers. In this paper, we present an empirically grounded case that sometimes the novice-like design behaviors emerge, not due to a lack of skills/knowledge on part of the student designers, but by the nature of the way the act...
Conference Paper
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During a sequence of interventions including a tutorial and a teaching interview, a student ("Bryce") showed evidence of understanding all the steps of Riemann-sum style reasoning about why displacement corresponds to the area under a velocity vs. time graph, which in turn corresponds to the integral of velocity over time. However, he does not view...
Conference Paper
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Research in science and mathematics education suggests that the pedagogical practice of responsive teaching—teaching that notices, attends and responds to the substance (not merely the correctness) of students' thinking—supports student engagement in disciplinary practices. However, researchers in science education and researchers in mathematics ed...
Conference Paper
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"Responsive teaching," in which teachers attend and respond to the substance of students' ideas, is central to facilitating student learning through engagement in authentic disciplinary practices. In characterizing teachers' progress toward greater responsiveness, researchers typically code teachers' attention as shifting toward the intellectual co...
Article
Underlying much of the work on learning progressions (LPs) is a strong though often tacit assumption that student thinking is theory-like and context-independent. In this work-in-progress, we use both theoretical perspectives on the nature of novices' knowledge and empirical evidence of the context-dependent variability of students' reasoning in ph...
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Many prominent lines of research on student's reasoning and conceptual change within learning sciences and physics education research have not attended to the role of learners' affect or emotions in the dynamics of their conceptual reasoning. This is despite evidence from psychology and cognitive- and neuro- sciences that emotions are deeply integr...
Article
Students' epistemological views about biology-their ideas about what "counts" as learning and understanding biology-play a role in how they approach their courses and respond to reforms. As introductory biology courses incorporate more physics and quantitative reasoning, student attitudes about the role of equations in biology become especially rel...
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Many science education researchers have argued that learners' commitment to a substance (matter-based) ontology impedes the learning of scientific concepts that scientists typically conceptualize as processes or interactions, such as such as force, electric current, and heat. By this account, students' tendency to classify these entities as substan...
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Much research in engineering and physics education has focused on improving students’ problem-solving skills. This research has led to the development of step-by-step problem-solving strategies and grading rubrics to assess a student’s expertise in solving problems using these strategies. These rubrics value “communication” between the student’s qu...
Conference Paper
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In this paper, we present the case of Estevan, an eighth-grader from Honduras whose interest in science lies primarily at the intersection of personal epistemology and identity. Drawing on video data from classroom interactions as well as interviews with Estevan and his teacher, Ms. K, we show how Estevan's passionate engagement in sensemaking abou...
Article
Prior to taking a translated version of the Maryland Open Source Tutorials (OSTs) as a stand-alone course, most students at Tokyo Gakugei University in Japan had experienced physics as memorizing laws and equations to use as computational tools. We might expect this reformed physics class, which emphasizes common sense and conceptual reasoning and...
Article
Physics students' views about what kinds of learning and knowledge-generating activities are expected in class, their epistemological framing, influences their reasoning and what they learn. [1,2] In previous work, we observed that students' likelihood of correctly answering a kinematics question easily solved through common sense depended on wheth...
Article
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Current conceptions of expert problem solving depict physical/conceptual reasoning and formal mathematical reasoning as separate steps: a good problem solver first translates a physical understanding into mathematics, then performs mathematical/symbolic manipulations, then interprets the mathematical solution physically. However, other research sug...
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This study explored how researchers’ views about the form of students’ epistemologies influence how the researchers develop and refine surveys and how they interpret survey results. After running standard statistical analyses on 505 physics students’ responses to the Turkish version of the Maryland Physics Expectations-II survey, probing students’...
Article
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Researchers have argued against deficit-based explanations of students' troubles with mathematical sense-making, pointing instead to factors such as epistemology: students' beliefs about knowledge and learning can hinder them from activating and integrating productive knowledge they have. In this case study of an engineering major solving problems...
Article
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Effective physics instruction benefits from respecting the physics ideas that introductory students bring into the classroom. We argue that it is similarly beneficial to respect the teaching ideas that novice physics instructors bring to their classrooms. We present a case study of a tutorial teaching assistant (TA), Alan. When we first examined Al...
Conference Paper
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This paper empirically argues for a closer examination of what we wish to retain when we speak of “retention” in engineering. We present and interpret data from clinical interviews and classroom video of “Michael,” a student who feels marginalized by an engineering program that undervalues him because of his stance toward knowledge. Michael is a so...
Conference Paper
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Researchers have argued for students' epistemology as connected to their affect, but at a coarse grain-size-treating epistemology as a belief or stance toward a discipline, and an emotional stance as applied broadly to a discipline or classroom culture. A second, emerging line of research, however, shows that a student can shift between multiple lo...
Article
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As part of a long-term program to develop effective, research-based professional development programs for physics graduate student teaching assistants (TAs), we first identify their current classroom practices and why they engage in these practices. In this paper, we identify a set of teaching practices we call “focusing on indicators,” which occur...
Article
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Research has linked a student's affect to her epistemology (Boaler & Greeno, 2000), but those constructs often apply broadly to a discipline and/or classroom culture. Independently, an emerging line of research shows that a student in a given classroom and discipline can shift between multiple locally coherent epistemological stances (Hammer, Elby,...
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Researchers have argued against deficit-based explanations of students' troubles with mathematical sense-making, pointing instead to factors such as epistemology: students' beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning can hinder them from activating and integrating productive knowledge they have. But such explanations run the risk of substitu...
Article
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Previously, we have argued that an account of personal epistemologies based on epistemological resources shows generativity and explanatory power, especially for understanding variability in a student's behavior. In this chapter, we argue that a resources framework is generative for instruction and is therefore worth teaching to teachers. Using for...
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Successful implementation of tutorials includes establishing norms for learning in the tutorial classroom. The teaching assistants (TAs) who lead each tutorial section are important arbiters of these norms. TAs who value (buy into) tutorials are more likely to convey their respect for the material and the tutorial process to the students, as well a...
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Some researchers, including B. K. Hofer and P. R. Pintrich (1997)14. Hofer , B. K. and Pintrich , P. R. 1997. The development of epistemological theories: Beliefs about knowledge and knowing and their relation to learning.. Review of Educational Research, 67(1): 88–140. [CrossRef], [Web of Science ®]View all references and W. A. Sandoval (2005)19...
Article
Before we can develop effective, research-based professional development programs for graduate student physics TAs, we must first identify their current classroom practices and why they engage in these practices. Framing, a theoretical framework developed in sociology and linguistics, provides an analytical toolbox for examining the expectations th...
Conference Paper
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Research-based calls for science education reform emphasize that, for inquiry and deep learning to occur, teachers must attend to the substance of students' ideas, which must play a prominent role in class. Using classroom video and teacher interviews, we illustrate two different ways of attending to students' ideas, both of which sustain students'...
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Instructors inevitably need to adapt even the best reform materials to suit their local circumstances. We offer a package of research-based, open-source, epistemologically-focused mechanics tutorials, along with the detailed information instructors need to make effective modifications and offer professional development to teaching assistants. In pa...
Article
A new research project at the University of Maryland is investigating the specific nature of TAs' experience with reform instruction. The study combines data from many sources to create detailed case studies of individual TAs as they develop into experienced tutorial instructors. For example, we may observe an individual TA as he works through a sp...
Article
Physics instructors' goals often go beyond improving students' conceptual understanding and problem solving. Instructors also want students to engage in inquiry, become scientific/critical thinkers, understand the scientific process, and so on. We see two problems with these ``non-content'' goals. First, notions such as inquiry and scientific think...
Article
Physics graduate teaching assistants are essential to the implementation of many collaborative active-learning environments, including tutorials. However, many TAs have trouble teaching effectively in these formats. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the problems may include inappropriate models of physics students, unproductive theories of learning,...
Article
Do students really believe the physical principles they learn in class? To explore this question, we gave an FCI ``split'' task in which students indicated the answers they think a scientist would give and also indicated the answers they really believe. To interpret the splits that students indicated between what they believe and what they were tau...