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written by Michael C. Wittmann
In this dissertation, I describe an investigation of student understanding of mechanical and sound waves, how we organize our findings, and how our results lead to the development of curriculum materials used in the classroom. Student understanding is described in the context of wave propagation, superposition, use of mathematics, and other topics. Investigations were carried out using the common tools of PER, including free response, multiple-choice, multiple-response, and semi-guided individual interview questions.

Student reasoning is described in terms of primitives generally used to simplify reasoning about complicated topics. I introduce a previously undocumented primitive, the object as point primitive. We organize student descriptions of wave physics around the idea of patterns of associations that use common primitive elements of reasoning. We can describe students as if they make an analogy toward Newtonian particle physics. The analogy guides students toward describing a wave as if it were a point particle described by certain unique parts of the wave. A diagnostic test has been developed to probe the dynamics of student reasoning during the course of instruction.

We have replaced traditional recitation instruction with curriculum materials designed to help students come to a more complete and appropriate understanding of wave physics. We find that the research-based instructional materials are more effective than the traditional lecture setting in helping students apply appropriate reasoning elements to the physics of waves.
University: University of Maine
Academic Department:  Physics Education Research Laboratory
Pages 201
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education - Applied Research
- Curriculum Development
Oscillations & Waves
- Acoustics
- Wave Motion
= Wave Properties of Sound
- Lower Undergraduate
- Graduate/Professional
- Upper Undergraduate
- Reference Material
= Research study
PER-Central Types Intended Users Ratings
- PER Literature
- Thesis/Dissertation
- Researchers
- Educators
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© 1998 Michael C. Wittmann
Keywords:
Dynamics of Student Reasoning, Particle Pulses Mental Model, Student Difficulties with Wave Physics
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created August 13, 2007 by Michael Wittmann
Record Updated:
July 4, 2008 by Vince Kuo
Last Update
when Cataloged:
December 1, 1998
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Record Link
AIP Format
M. Wittmann, University of Maine, 1998, WWW Document, (http://perlnet.umaine.edu/research/mcw/index.html).
AJP/PRST-PER
M. Wittmann, Making Sense of How Students Come to an Understanding of Physics: An Example from Mechanical Waves, University of Maine, 1998, <http://perlnet.umaine.edu/research/mcw/index.html>.
APA Format
Wittmann, M. (1998, December 1). Making Sense of How Students Come to an Understanding of Physics: An Example from Mechanical Waves (University of Maine, 1998). Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://perlnet.umaine.edu/research/mcw/index.html
Chicago Format
Wittmann, Michael. "Making Sense of How Students Come to an Understanding of Physics: An Example from Mechanical Waves." University of Maine, 1998. http://perlnet.umaine.edu/research/mcw/index.html (accessed 21 October 2014).
MLA Format
Wittmann, Michael. "Making Sense of How Students Come to an Understanding of Physics: An Example from Mechanical Waves." 1 Dec. 1998. University of Maine, 1998. 21 Oct. 2014 <http://perlnet.umaine.edu/research/mcw/index.html>.
BibTeX Export Format
@phdthesis{ Author = "Michael Wittmann", Title = {Making Sense of How Students Come to an Understanding of Physics: An Example from Mechanical Waves}, School = {University of Maine}, Month = {December}, Year = {1998} }
Refer Export Format

%A Michael Wittmann
%T Making Sense of How Students Come to an Understanding of Physics: An Example from Mechanical Waves
%D December 1, 1998
%P 201
%I University of Maine
%U http://perlnet.umaine.edu/research/mcw/index.html
%O Physics Education Research Laboratory
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Thesis
%A Wittmann, Michael
%D December 1, 1998
%T Making Sense of How Students Come to an Understanding of Physics: An Example from Mechanical Waves
%B Physics Education Research Laboratory
%I University of Maine
%P 201
%8 December 1, 1998
%U http://perlnet.umaine.edu/research/mcw/index.html


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Making Sense of How Students Come to an Understanding of Physics: An Example from Mechanical Waves:

Is Supplemented By http://perlnet.umephy.maine.edu/research/wavesdefense.pdf

This presentation was used in the defense of this dissertation.

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