Proposal Title

“I don’t want to go to Med School”: A narrative investigation of the relevance of pivotal moments in discipline selection by undergraduate science students.

Session Type

Presentation

Room

P&A 150

Start Date

7-7-2017 2:20 PM

Keywords

science education, discipline selection, narrative methods, threshold concepts, bottlenecks

Primary Threads

Teaching and Learning Science

Abstract

We have set out to investigate, through a series of semi-structured interviews with science students, whether key events in their learning arcs, such as explaining a complex process to a classmate or attending a lecture by a leading researcher, played an important part in guiding students towards majoring in the sciences. We call such events “pivotal moments,” and we hypothesize their impact is strong enough to change a student’s initial discipline selection.

In our work, we are attempting to relate pivotal moments to threshold concepts, "critical moments of irreversible conceptual transformation in the educational experiences of learners" (Meyer & Land, 2005, p. 373). Pivotal moments differ from “bottlenecks”, day-to-day procedural barriers which may serve to stall, but perhaps not shift, a student’s academic path (Middendorf & Pace, 2004). Join us to hear what our first set of thirteen interviews told us about the paths science students follow towards their degrees, and what changed their minds about science.

While our research brought us closer to formulating insights about pivotal moments, it also suggested new questions. As we share our research outcomes and questions, we would like you to share what brought you to science education.

Meyer & Land (2005). Higher Education, 49, 373-388.

Middendorf & Pace (2004). New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 98, 1-12.

Elements of Engagement

We would like to ask the following questions for discussion before we present our results:

1. What processes and considerations drive students in selecting an academic discipline?

2. Do disciplinary threshold concepts play a role in directing students into a discipline either by encouraging or discouraging further studies after completing introductory courses?

Also:

3. Do bottlenecks encountered by students learning new disciplines play a role in discouraging them from pursuing further learning in those disciplines?

Attendees will discuss these in small groups for 3-5 minutes, then groups will report back, in Think-Pair-Share style, for up to 8 minutes. The presentation of our results will take up to 10 minutes, with room for questions.

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Jul 7th, 2:20 PM

“I don’t want to go to Med School”: A narrative investigation of the relevance of pivotal moments in discipline selection by undergraduate science students.

P&A 150

We have set out to investigate, through a series of semi-structured interviews with science students, whether key events in their learning arcs, such as explaining a complex process to a classmate or attending a lecture by a leading researcher, played an important part in guiding students towards majoring in the sciences. We call such events “pivotal moments,” and we hypothesize their impact is strong enough to change a student’s initial discipline selection.

In our work, we are attempting to relate pivotal moments to threshold concepts, "critical moments of irreversible conceptual transformation in the educational experiences of learners" (Meyer & Land, 2005, p. 373). Pivotal moments differ from “bottlenecks”, day-to-day procedural barriers which may serve to stall, but perhaps not shift, a student’s academic path (Middendorf & Pace, 2004). Join us to hear what our first set of thirteen interviews told us about the paths science students follow towards their degrees, and what changed their minds about science.

While our research brought us closer to formulating insights about pivotal moments, it also suggested new questions. As we share our research outcomes and questions, we would like you to share what brought you to science education.

Meyer & Land (2005). Higher Education, 49, 373-388.

Middendorf & Pace (2004). New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 98, 1-12.