Exploring the Coherence of Student Reasoning when Responding to Questionnaires on Thermally Activated Phenomena
Onofrio Rosario Battaglia 1 * , Benedetto Di Paola 2, Claudio Fazio 1
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1 Dipartimento di Fisica e Chimica - Emilio Segrè, Università degli Studi di Palermo, ITALY2 Dipartimento di Matematica e Informatica, Università degli Studi di Palermo, ITALY* Corresponding Author


Many research results show that students often highlight “mixed-type” reasoning when tackling problematic situations and problems. This reasoning is based on the simultaneous use of common-sense and mere descriptions of facts, perceived as sufficient to build an “explanation” of observed or proposed situations and problems. This fact can be interpreted as a lack of coherence. In this paper, we study the coherence of responses that a sample of undergraduate chemical engineering student give when they are asked to face real-life situations, to create explanations, and to use models in different contexts. We administered open-ended questionnaires before and after a twenty-hour Inquiry-Based workshop related to phenomena activated by a thermal overcoming of a potential barrier. Based on the Physics Education Research literature on student understanding of relevant physics contents, the student responses are analysed by using researcher-generated categories of reasoning and their coherence is studied. Finally, we discuss some implications of the results to improve the development of students’ explicative skills.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

EURASIA J Math Sci Tech Ed, Volume 17, Issue 7, July 2021, Article No: em1977


Publication date: 27 May 2021

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