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Adapting a theoretical framework for characterizing students' use of equations in physics problem solving Documents

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Adapting a theoretical framework for characterizing students' use of equations in physics problem solving 

written by Carina M. Rebello and N. Sanjay Rebello

Previous studies have focused on the resources that students activate and utilize while solving a given physics problem. However, few studies explore how students relate a given resource such as an equation, to various types of physics problems and contexts and how they ascertain the meaning and applicability of that resource. We explore how students view physics equations, derive meaning from those equations, and use those equations in physics problem solving. We adapt Dubinsky and McDonald's description of APOS (action-process-object-schema) theory of learning in mathematics, to construct a theoretical framework that describes how students interpret and use equations in physics in terms of actions, processes, objects, and schemas. This framework provides a lens for understanding how students construct their understanding of physics concepts and their relation to equations. We highlight how APOS theory can be operationalized to serve as a lens for studying the use of mathematics in physics problem solving.

Published February 6, 2012
Last Modified April 25, 2012

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