Conference paper accompanying a poster presentation at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), San Francisco, CA.
The purpose of this study is to explore reasoning processes that students use when running thought experiments (TEs) in science classrooms. We also focus on the use of depictive hand motions, which we regard as providing some evidence for the involvement of mental imagery in these episodes of student reasoning. We discuss our analysis of several of the episodes in terms of four forms of expert reasoning that have been associated with expert use of TEs (Clement, in preparation). We coded independently for these processes and for the occurrence of depictive hand motions. This allows us a window onto the roles imagery (and TEs) appear to be playing in student thinking during these large class discussions, where students were being asked to generate and evaluate explanatory models of phenomena.
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