Supporting student construction of alternative lines of reasoning

Mikayla Mays, Mackenzie R. Stetzer, Beth A. Lindsey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


An emerging body of research suggests that, even after research-based instruction, poor student performance on certain physics tasks may stem primarily from domain-general reasoning phenomena rather than from a lack of conceptual understanding. The reasoning patterns (and inconsistencies) reported in these studies may be explained by dual-process theories of reasoning (DPToR). In order to help students strengthen their reasoning skills and support increased cognitive reflection, there is a need to design and test instructional intervention strategies that leverage DPToR and that may ultimately guide the development of research-based curricular materials that attend to the nature of human reasoning more explicitly. This investigation focused on an intervention designed to support analytical processing in which students were asked to set aside their own reasoning and engage in alternative lines of reasoning. In the intervention, students first responded to a qualitative physics task, then constructed reasoning chains in support of answers to that task given by two fictitious students, and finally revisited the original physics task. Analysis revealed that this intervention was successful at improving student performance. Furthermore, it appears to have supported students regardless of their cognitive reflection skills, and its effectiveness may potentially be correlated with the quality of reasoning chains generated in support of the correct fictitious student’s response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhysics Education Research Conference Proceedings
EditorsMichael B. Bennett, Brian W. Frank, Rebecca E. Vieyra
PublisherAmerican Association of Physics Teachers
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9780917853487
StatePublished - 2021
EventPhysics Education Research Conference, PERC 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Aug 4 2021Aug 5 2021

Publication series

NamePhysics Education Research Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1539-9028
ISSN (Electronic)2377-2379


ConferencePhysics Education Research Conference, PERC 2021
CityVirtual, Online

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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