A Computational Study of Commonsense Science: An Exploration in the Automated Analysis of Clinical Interview Data

Bruce Sherin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

A large body of research in the learning sciences has focused on students' commonsense science knowledge-the everyday knowledge of the natural world that is gained outside of formal instruction. Although researchers studying commonsense science have employed a variety of methods, 1-on-1 clinical interviews have played a unique role. The data that result from these interviews take the form of video recordings, which in turn are often compiled into written transcripts and coded by human analysts. In this article, I explore the application of computational techniques to the analysis of this familiar type of data. I describe the success I have had using extremely simple methods from computational linguistics-methods that are based on rudimentary vector space models and simple clustering algorithms. These automated analyses are employed in an exploratory mode as a way to discover student conceptions in the data. The aims of this article are primarily methodological in nature: I attempt to show that it is possible to use techniques from computational linguistics to analyze data from commonsense science interviews in a manner that may provide convergent support for the work of human analysts. As a test bed, I draw on transcripts of a corpus of interviews in which 54 middle school students were asked to explain the seasons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-638
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of the Learning Sciences
Volume22
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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