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Students’ Views of Math and Physics Problems: Structure vs. Content Documents

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Students’ Views of Math and Physics Problems: Structure vs. Content 

written by Dyan L. Jones

This is a continuation of a set of work investigating how students use mathematics when solving physics problems. This phase of the study specifically looked at qualitative data from in-depth group interviews to expand upon the more quantitative studies previously conducted. Specifically, but unsurprisingly, the results indicate that students tend to focus on the solution technique when examining math problems but heavily emphasize the context of the problem when examining physics problems. This is evident in a variety of tasks including grouping/matching exercises and oral discussions of the nature of the problems, and is true regardless of the purposeful prompting of students to consider the solution techniques required. Analysis from these interviews will be presented here, as well as some indication for future work to facilitate a more natural and useful incorporation of these disciplines for effective problem solving.

Published February 1, 2014
Last Modified January 31, 2014

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