Theorizing Quantitative Physics Education Research
Lin Ding, Ohio State University, firstname.lastname@example.org
While there is an increasing trend to embrace qualitative methods in physics education research (PER), the quantitative tradition of the field is still deeply rooted in many empirical studies. As with any type of scholarly work, quantitative PER is not just data mining or simple application of statistics (a view or a malpractice that largely reflects the common misconception about the nature of this type of work). In fact, quantitative PER requires a sound theoretical basis, no less than does qualitative PER, in order for the outcomes to be meaningful and defensible. In this talk, I address the issue of theorizing quantitative PER with the hope that this research paradigm is neither glorified nor trivialized. Specifically, I invite the seminar participants to join me in exploring the fundamental differences between quantitative studies in PER and those in conventional physics research. It is through this perspective that we continue to discuss the source, function and use of theoretical foundations for quantitative PER. To solidify the message, I present an actual study as an example to illustrate how one can identify or construct a (tentative) theoretical model for empirical studies in PER.