Intertwining evidence- and model-based reasoning in physics sensemaking: An example from electrostatics
AbstractOur field has long valued the goal of teaching students not just the facts of physics, but also the thinking and reasoning skills of professional physicists. The complexity inherent in scientific reasoning demands that we think carefully about how we conceptualize for ourselves, enact in our classes, and encourage in our students the relationship between the multifaceted practices of professional science. The current study draws on existing research in the philosophy of science and psychology to advocate for intertwining two important aspects of scientific reasoning: using evidence from experimentation and modeling. We present a case from an undergraduate physics course to illustrate how these aspects can be intertwined productively and describe specific ways in which these aspects of reasoning can mutually reinforce one another in student learning. We end by discussing implications for this work for instruction in introductory physics courses and for research on scientific reasoning at the undergraduate level.