The MCC Research Group studies issues pertaining to mathematical model-building (derivations in physics) and scientific practices. We also investigate student conceptions in physics and the role of concept inventories. An outline of our research is described below under the three interconnected threads:
- Recasting the pedagogy of derivations as mathematical model–building – Creating a smooth transition to computational and interdisciplinary modeling
Our group conceive physics, as an activity in mathematical modeling of the world around us – with the goal of making sense of it and generate explanations that have predictive capability. Derivations are essentially the final products of extensive mathematical model-building undertook by scientists at various points in history. They form a core component of physics education. By making explicit the model-building moves embedded in derivations we seek to provide students and teachers a better understanding of the underlying processes. Our approach then leverages this understanding of building to create a smooth transition to computational and interdisciplinary modeling, using numerical approaches to solving equations as a boundary crossing space. Our design thus enables a gradualist transition to these novel approaches to modeling, augmenting existing curricula and classroom practices. For further details see Mashood et. al. 2022, Physical Review PER.
- Students understanding of practices like approximations, idealizations etc.
The second thread of our research focuses on investigating student understanding of practices like approximations, idealizations etc. which are intricately connected to mathematical model-building. These practices recur in derivations, spanning across topics in physics.
- Student conception studies and concept inventories
Learning involves construction of sophisticated understanding by building on our existing knowledge systems. The educational implication that follows is to take into account student conceptions in teaching and learning of science. We seek to understand student conceptions in topics of physics, their nature and role in learning. We also investigate the role of conceptual MCQs and concept inventories in improving instruction.