Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Making Visible the Complexities of Problem Solving: An Ethnographic Study of a General Chemistry Course in a Studio Learning Environment
by Kalainoff, Melinda Zapata, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013, 299; 3602111
Abstract (Summary)

Studio classrooms, designed such that laboratory and lecture functions can occur in the same physical space, have been recognized as a promising contributing factor in promoting collaborative learning in the sciences (NRC, 2011). Moreover, in designing for instruction, a critical goal, especially in the sciences and engineering, is to foster an environment where students have opportunities for learning problem solving practices (NRC, 2012a). However, few studies show how this type of innovative learning environment shapes opportunities for learning in the sciences, which is critical to informing future curricular and instructional designs for these environments. Even fewer studies show how studio environments shape opportunities to develop problem solving practices specifically. In order to make visible how the learning environment promotes problem solving practices, this study explores problem solving phenomena in the daily life of an undergraduate General Chemistry studio class using an ethnographic perspective. By exploring problem solving as a sociocultural process, this study shows how the instructor and students co-construct opportunities for learning in whole class and small group interactional spaces afforded in this studio environment and how the differential demands on students in doing problems requires re-conceptualizing what it means to "apply a concept".

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Harlow, Danielle B.
Commitee: Bianchini, Julie A., Green, Judith L., Neff, Grace A.
School: University of California, Santa Barbara
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 75/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Science education
Keywords: General chemistry, Problem-solving, Science discourse, Studio classroom
Publication Number: 3602111
ISBN: 9781303539107