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Assessing students' ability to solve introductory physics problems using integrals in symbolic and graphical representations Documents

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Assessing students' ability to solve introductory physics problems using integrals in symbolic and graphical representations 

written by Neelam Khan, Dehui Hu, Dong-Hai Nguyen, and N. Sanjay Rebello

Integration is widely used in physics in electricity and magnetism (E&M), as well as in mechanics, to calculate physical quantities from other non-constant quantities. We designed a survey to assess students' ability to apply integration to physics problems in introductory physics. Each student was given a set of eight problems, and each set of problems had two different versions; one consisted of symbolic problems and the other graphical problems. The purpose of this study was to investigate students' strategies for solving physics problems that use integrals in first and second-semester calculus-based physics. Our results indicate that most students had difficulty even recognizing that an integral is needed to solve the problem.

Published February 6, 2012
Last Modified April 25, 2012

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