ABS109 - Study groups: Survival strategy in physics undergraduate program
Paper in a Working Group Roundtable (WGRT)
5:00 PM, Wednesday 30 Aug 2017 (1 hour)
Convention Center - 2000 A - Table B
This sociocultural study examines the collaborative learning practices (Vygotsky, 1984), in spontaneously created study groups of physics Mexican undergraduates for the purpose of completing their problem-solving homework. These groups articulate individual work and collaborative work, where the more competent students help others understand (ZPD), but these roles alternate frequently. In order to face disciplinary complexity, the differences in the possibilities of students understanding, and their diverse social and working conditions, the study groups comprised a form of peer interaction that open opportunity times (kairos) with students acting as bricoleurs. The construction of different roles within these groups and their frequent alternation produce qualitatively variable timeframes, inasmuch as time is a socially dependent category. Time is shown as a category of action that does not change uniformly, but is modified depending on the differential social action undertaken by students in their problem-solving processes. The study group provides the timely support that each participant requires, at the moment of opportunity (kairos) when he/she is working and encounters an obstacle or doubt that keeps him/her from continuing to build the solution to the problem. Thus, students act as bricoleurs, because they work with the resources that are available in any given situation. The way students help others at the moment of opportunity works in reducing students’ intellectual differences, as well as their differences in possibilities and aptitudes. Furthermore, complementary work and mutual supervision also save students chronological and emotional time by reducing the frustration of not being able to solve a complex assignment.