Ryan Stowe Colloquium

  • Starts: 11:15 am on Monday, January 30, 2023
  • Ends: 12:15 pm on Monday, January 30, 2023
Dr. Ryan Stowe, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will present an in-person seminar in the Eichenbaum Colloquium Room of the Kilachand Center.

Title:A Case for Foregrounding Epistemology in College Chemistry

Abstract: There is a long tradition in chemistry education scholarship (including our work) of assuming there is inherent value in students mimicking the practices of professional scientists. For example, one might claim that student groups who construct more “expert-like” explanations or models for phenomena are being better prepared for post-school life than students whose knowledge products align less-well with canon. We will present several recent studies that demonstrate we (as a community) know how to prepare students to construct explanations, models etc. that look like what a scientist might draw or write. If we coherently emphasize and reward the use of big ideas (e.g., energy, bonding interactions) to explain/model phenomena, students tend to bet better able to do these sorts of things. However, our field has almost entirely ignored why students are explaining, modeling etc. This is problematic due to evidence that, for students to see ways of knowing and doing emphasized in-class as useful in-life, they must (tacitly) see school tasks as contiguous with life tasks. I will present some evidence that, even in a class that emphasizes mimicking scientific practice, the goals guiding students’ knowledge construction work are unlikely to be useful beyond the classroom. I will then argue that a wholesale overhaul of curricula and assessments is likely needed if we truly want students to (potentially) use chemistry knowledge as they are navigating life.

RKC 101
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