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Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research
written by Chandralekha Singh
This paper explores the use of isomorphic problem pairs (IPPs) to assess introductory physics students' ability to solve and successfully transfer problem-solving knowledge from one context to another in mechanics. The paired problems are "isomorphic" because they require the same physics principle to solve them.  We analyze written responses, individual discussions for a range of isomorphic problems, and potential factors that may help or hinder transfer of problem-solving skills from one problem in a pair to the other. When quantitative and conceptual questions were paired and given back to back, students who answered both questions in the IPP often performed better on the conceptual questions than those who answered the corresponding conceptual questions only. Although students often took advantage of the quantitative counterpart to answer a conceptual question of an IPP correctly, when only given the conceptual question, students seldom tried to convert it into a quantitative question, solve it, and then reason about the solution conceptually. Even in individual interviews when students who were given only conceptual questions had difficulty and the interviewer explicitly encouraged them to convert the conceptual question into the corresponding quantitative problem by choosing appropriate variables, a majority of students were reluctant and preferred to guess the answer to the conceptual question based upon their gut feeling. Misconceptions associated with friction in some problems were so robust that pairing them with isomorphic problems not involving friction did not help students discern their underlying similarities. Alternatively, from the knowledge-in-pieces perspective, the activation of the knowledge resource related to friction was so strongly and automatically triggered by the context, which is outside the conscious control of the student, that students did not look for analogies with paired problems or other aids that may be present.
Subjects ADS Supplements Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Applications of Newton's Laws
= Friction
- Rotational Dynamics
Education - Applied Research
- Active Learning
= Problem Solving
General Physics
- Physics Education Research
- Reference Material
= Research study
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© 2008 The American Physical Society
DOI:
10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.4.010105
ISSN Number:
1554-9178
NSF Number:
0442087
PACSs:
01.40.Di
01.50.-i
Keywords:
force, friction, inelastic collision, rotational energy, tension, transfer, velocity
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created July 4, 2008 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
July 14, 2013 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
March 28, 2008
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AIP Format
C. Singh, Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 4 (1), 010105 (2008), WWW Document, (http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.4.010105).
AJP/PRST-PER
C. Singh, Assessing student expertise in introductory physics with isomorphic problems. II. Effect of some potential factors on problem solving and transfer, Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 4 (1), 010105 (2008), <http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.4.010105>.
APA Format
Singh, C. (2008, March 28). Assessing student expertise in introductory physics with isomorphic problems. II. Effect of some potential factors on problem solving and transfer. Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res., 4(1), 010105. Retrieved October 24, 2014, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.4.010105
Chicago Format
Singh, Chandralekha. "Assessing student expertise in introductory physics with isomorphic problems. II. Effect of some potential factors on problem solving and transfer." Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 4, no. 1, (March 28, 2008): 010105, http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.4.010105 (accessed 24 October 2014).
MLA Format
Singh, Chandralekha. "Assessing student expertise in introductory physics with isomorphic problems. II. Effect of some potential factors on problem solving and transfer." Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 4.1 (2008): 010105. 24 Oct. 2014 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.4.010105>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "Chandralekha Singh", Title = {Assessing student expertise in introductory physics with isomorphic problems. II. Effect of some potential factors on problem solving and transfer}, Journal = {Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res.}, Volume = {4}, Number = {1}, Pages = {010105}, Month = {March}, Year = {2008} }
Refer Export Format

%A Chandralekha Singh
%T Assessing student expertise in introductory physics with isomorphic problems. II. Effect of some potential factors on problem solving and transfer
%J Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res.
%V 4
%N 1
%D March 28, 2008
%P 010105
%U http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.4.010105
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article
%A Singh, Chandralekha
%D March 28, 2008
%T Assessing student expertise in introductory physics with isomorphic problems. II. Effect of some potential factors on problem solving and transfer
%J Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res.
%V 4
%N 1
%P 010105
%8 March 28, 2008
%@ 1554-9178
%U http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.4.010105


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