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PERC 2012 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Student Difficulties in Translating between Mathematical and Graphical Representations in Introductory Physics
Abstract: We investigate introductory physics students' difficulties in translating between mathematical and graphical representations and effect of scaffolding on students' performance. We gave a typical problem that can be solved using Gauss's law to 96 calculus-based introductory physics students. Students were asked to write an expression for the electric field in various regions and graph it. We implemented two scaffolding interventions to help them: (1) students were asked to draw the electric field in each region first (before having to plot it at the end) or (2) asked to draw the electric field in each region and asked to evaluate the electric field at the beginning, mid and end points of each region. The comparison group was only asked to plot the electric field at the end of the problem. We also conducted interviews in order to better understand how the interventions impacted them. We will present some surprising results.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Shih-Yin Lin
University of Pittsburgh
100 Allen Hall, 3941 O'Hara St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Co-Author(s)
and Co-Presenter(s)
Alexandru Maries, Chandralekha Singh