How can I show students that I expect explanations?

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Episode 303: Zero mass Seattle Pacific University

Many students expect science classes to be about getting the "right answer," and may not be clear on the value of explaining their reasoning. As instructors, how do we show students that we expect explanations?

July 3, 2018

Pedagogy Content
Not giving the answer, Questioning strategies
Physics Content
Newton's laws
Instructor Interaction
STEM-wide audiences

Lesson Contents (5 MB)Student Handout
Transcript, discussion questions, and problem

(2 MB)Specific Lesson Guide
Facilitator's guide for this lesson

(1 MB)General Facilitator's Guide
Background and best practices

(178 MB)Video
Captioned video


Sample Discussion Prompts

  1. What did you observe in this episode? Talk to your partners about what you saw.

  2. When Daphne expresses her question about the acceleration of the massless string (line 22),
    Lindsey doesn’t answer it directly. What does she do instead?

  3. According to Crystal, the instructor that this group interacted with previously confused them because he “didn’t want to give anything away.” Does Lindsey give things away?

  4. Who actually answers Daphne’s question about the acceleration of the massless string?

  5. What blows Daphne’s mind?

  6. The students express positive sentiments about their instructors. Are they joking or are they sincere? What makes you think so?

  7. Does Lindsey say anything in particular that gets her students to articulate their ideas?

  8. What does Lindsey do nonverbally to support the students in expressing themselves?

  9. What does this episode suggest instructors can do to show students that they expect explanations?

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