The goal of this seminar is two-fold, to present a general overview of different frameworks for students' understanding of science concepts and explore technology enablers, like MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), EEG (electroencephalography), eye-tracking, and electrodermal activity, that could take the understanding of how people learn to the next level. Three main theoretical frameworks in students' conceptual understanding studies will be presented to achieve the goal. The misconceptions view postulates that students have been learning about the world through the experience all their life. Misconceptions have complex structures in the mind of students that interfere with scientific conceptions students try to learn in the classroom. The second framework is the knowledge-in-pieces view, in which students' conceptions consist of pieces of knowledge instead of structured misconceptions. Students will access different pieces of knowledge depending on the context of the same physical phenomena. The last framework of students' conceptions is the ontological category view. In this view, students classify knowledge into ontological categories that are not necessarily correct. Some studies postulate that students' difficulties in conceptual understanding are explained with one specific framework. However, others postulate that those difficulties are explained with different frameworks depending on the subject, the familiarity of students, and the context.
In recent years, neuroeducation, the study of the activities in the brain when people learn and its use to improve learning, has been very active producing research on students' conceptual understanding. Moreover, other activity/physiological sensors like eye-tracking, pupil dilation, and dermal changes have been used to study cognitive load in school-like activities. These techniques can potentially deepen our knowledge of how people learn and what we can do to strengthen our effort to improve classroom educational practices.
About the speaker
Genaro Zavala is the Interim Director of the Research Lab at the Institute for the Future of Education and a Full professor at the School of Engineering and Sciences at Tecnologico de Monterrey. He is the leader of the Socially Oriented Interdisciplinary STEAM Education Research Group and the Engaging and Motivating Learning Models Unit. He is National Researcher Level 2 in Mexico. His research lines are interdisciplinary STEM education, social oriented Education, conceptual understanding, active learning, assessment tools, and faculty development. Dr. Zavala was appointed to the editorial board of the PRPER (2015-18). In the AAPT, he was a vice-presidential candidate, member of the Committee on Research in Physics Education, member and chair of the International Education Committee, and elected member of Leadership Organizing Physics Education Research Council. He has been in education research for the last 18 years, published more than 85 papers, has more than 950 citations, and has an h-index of 13, according to Scopus. Additionally, Genaro Zavala worked as an academic administrator in the School of Engineering and Sciences, where he was the leader in designing three doctoral programs, three master's degree programs, and 18 undergraduate degree programs. He was also the leader of the design and implementation of the Model TEC21 in the School of Engineering and Sciences.
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