Physics Department Seminar University of Alaska Fairbanks

J O U R N A L    C L U B


Fluidity in Student Reasoning about Radioactivity and the Ensuing Call for Responsive Teaching

Michael M. Hull
Austrian Educational Competence Center Physics, Vienna



During the past, four years at the University of Vienna, the bulk of my research has focused on two projects that I will discuss in this presentation.  My first project investigates student reasoning about radioactivity.  Through interviews and surveys, I have found that many students will explain (incorrectly) that, if you begin with just a single unstable nucleus, it will become half a nucleus after one half-life has elapsed.  However, these same students simultaneously are able to (correctly) explain that you cannot have half an atom and that it is random when an individual nucleus fissions.  An implication of these findings is that radioactivity instruction should expect this kind of fluidity in student reasoning.  However, just because such curriculum exists does not necessarily mean teachers will use the curriculum as intended.  They may, for example, feel that they do not have the class time necessary to teach in a responsive manner when faced with student ideas that shift moment to moment.  My second project investigates teacher perception of agency, which I define as a teacher’s sense of how much control he or she has in the classroom.  I have found that Austrian teachers and pre-service teachers have notably greater perceived agency than counterparts in Japan, where the national curriculum is much more demanding on instructors.  I will include work that my MS and BS students have conducted and will discuss how these two projects could flourish at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.


Friday, 18 February 2022

201 REICH and on Zoom :

note time change 3:30PM