Problematizing in inquiry-based labs: How students respond to unexpected results

Meagan Sundstrom, Anna McLean Phillips, N. G. Holmes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Problematizing is a physics practice involving the articulation of a gap in understanding into a clear question or problem. Inquiry-based labs may be conducive to problematizing behaviors, as students often collect data that do not agree with simplified models or their intuitive predictions. In this study, we analyzed video of students performing a lab in which they find the acceleration of an object in flight to be different from what the presented models predict. We aimed to identify the various activities that groups engaged in upon recognizing this inconsistency. Common problematizing activities included explicit discussions of physics concepts, proposing a new experiment or calculation, and checking experimental calculations. We found that each group’s sequence and duration of activities was quite unique, highlighting a diversity of approaches taken to address this inconsistency.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhysics Education Research Conference, PERC 2020
EditorsSteven Wolf, Michael Bennett, Brian Frank
PublisherAmerican Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9781931024372
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes
EventPhysics Education Research Conference, 2020: Insights, Reflections, & Future Directions: Emergent Themes in the Evolving PER Community - Virtual, Online
Duration: 22 Jul 202023 Jul 2020

Publication series

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


ConferencePhysics Education Research Conference, 2020
Abbreviated titlePERC 2020
CityVirtual, Online
OtherTheme: Insights, Reflections, & Future Directions: Emergent Themes in the Evolving PER Community
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