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Episode 47 – Brant Hinrichs – “System Schema and Paying Attention to Social Positioning”

In this episode, Mark talks with Dr. Brant Hinrichs, associate professor of physics at Drury, a small university in Missouri. He talks about his studies in physics, his introduction to research on physics education, attending a workshop on Remodeled University Physics, and his own work in physics education research. They talk about the similarities and differences in the modeling approach between high school and college or university settings. They spend time talking about System Schema and energy, especially how we talk about this in a physics classroom. Brant teaches physics, but the discussion would be helpful for teachers of other disciplines as well.


Brant Hinrichs

Brant Hinrichs grew up in Michigan, studied electrical engineering and then physics at the University of Michigan, and then went to graduate school in Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Did a traditional physics PhD in non-linear dynamics – trying to model local field potentials from the brains of awake behaving pigeons. Followed by a two-year post-doc in Tokyo, Japan, again in non-linear dynamics. When he returned to the States, he was introduced to Physics Education Research. Over the following years, he got interested in research – trying to find evidence that his teaching was effective, and he has been doing that ever since. He and his wife are parents to two children, adopted as infants from Japan, and have found their lives to be greatly enriched by their addition to the family.


[12:38] Brant Hinrichs “I think textbooks talk about system, but actually visualizing it and seeing what’s inside the system and what’s outside, and thinking explicitly about where energy is stored… System schema is very useful for visualizing that.”

[18:09] Brant Hinrichs “”Where is energy stored” has been a fundamental question to ask students and have them think about, and help them to coordinate with all their representations.”

[33:31] Brant Hinrichs “predictions only ever happen after students have some subset of models from which to grab a prediction and apply.”


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Ep 47 Transcript


[Paper] Using the System Schema Representational Tool to Promote Student Understanding of Newton’s Third Law

[Paper] Sharp Initial Disagreements Then Consensus in a Student Led Whole-Class Discussion

[Paper] Social positioning correlates with consensus building in two contentious large-group meetings

[Paper] Do I belong here?: Describing identities of participation and non-participation in a contentious “board” meeting

[Paper] Writing Position Vectors in 3-d Space: A Student Difficulty With Spherical Unit Vectors in Intermediate E&M

[Paper] Changing the notation that represents a force changes how students say it

[Paper] Analyzing students’ collaboratively solving spherical unit vector problems in upper-level E&M through a lens of shared resources

>> View all of Brant’s papers on Researchgate

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