Designing classroom thought experiments: What we can learn from imagery indicators and expert protocols
Stephens, A. Lynn
Clement, John J.

Proceedings of the 2006 Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), San Francisco, CA.

This study explores roles that thought experiments (TEs) play in the classroom. An in-depth analysis of case studies identifies multiple instances of TEs in classroom episodes. With the use of a detailed list of imagery indicators, evidence is provided for the involvement of kinematic and kinesthetic imagery. Student- and teacher-generated TEs appear to be an important form of reasoning in the science classrooms investigated. There appear to be important similarities between expert and student uses of TEs, and evidence supports the hypothesis that certain TEs can allow students to evaluate the consistency of newly constructed models. Students are observed to reason with each other's TEs and those generated by the teacher as an important part of classroom discussion, and they appear to have considerable value as a sense-making strategy.

Complete conference paper (PDF)692.3 KB