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MicroAnalysis of Qualitative Physics: Opening the Black Box


The nature of qualitative understanding and associated learning processes in the context of a computer simulation called the "Envisioning Machine" (EM) are investigated. The questions focused on in this paper include the following: What sorts of knowledge do students' construct? What role does prior knowledge play in the construction of new knowledge? How does students' knowledge compare to scientists' knowledge? The researcher argues that students construct three kinds of knowledge through their experiences with the EM: registrations, qualitative cases, and p-prims (generative metaphors). Students' registrations are ways of carving up the simulation into parts, labelling part, and selecting some labelled part for attention. Students' qualitative cases are schema composed of qualitative associations that share applicability conditions. Students construct integrative explanations by applying p-prims to the features they register. An example of student dialogue that strongly suggests progress towards an understanding that occurred during a session with EM is included and is referred to throughout the paper. Some recommendations for curriculum and teaching and a list of 40 references are included. (KR)


Roschelle, J. MicroAnalysis of Qualitative Physics: Opening the Black Box. Retrieved July 23, 2019 from .

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