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Synthesis problems: role of mathematical complexity in students' problem solving strategies
written by Bashirah Ibrahim, Lin Ding, Daniel R. White, Ryan Badeau, and Andrew F. Heckler
We report a study on students' approaches to quantitative synthesis problems with varying mathematical complexities. Synthesis problems involve multiple concepts typically taught in different chapters. In this study, mathematical complexity is determined by the number and the type of equations that must be simultaneously solved. Students from a second year calculus-based physics course were randomly assigned to solve one of three synthesis problems varying in mathematical complexity: simple, medium, or complex. Results from extended written and interview responses revealed four major problem-solving approaches used by the students: trial-and-error, flawed reasoning, knowledgeable, and expert-like approach. Students solving the simple problem used all the four approaches, whereas those solving the other two mainly used the "trial-and-error" or "flawed reasoning" approaches. A common phenomenon is that many students could identify the appropriate concepts but failed to correctly apply them. Additionally, the students made similar mistakes on all the three problems.
Physics Education Research Conference 2016
Part of the PER Conference series
Sacramento, CA: July 20-21, 2016
Pages 168-171
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Foundations
- Problem Solving
= Processes
Education Practices
- Instructional Material Design
= Problem/Question
- Lower Undergraduate
- Reference Material
= Research study
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Mirror:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/perc.20…
Access Rights:
Free access
License:
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the published article's author(s), title, proceedings citation, and DOI.
Rights Holder:
American Association of Physics Teachers
DOI:
10.1119/perc.2016.pr.037
NSF Number:
1252399
Keyword:
PERC 2016
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created November 30, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
December 29, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
December 29, 2016
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Record Link
AIP Format
B. Ibrahim, L. Ding, D. White, R. Badeau, and A. Heckler, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2016, Sacramento, CA, 2016, WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14221&DocID=4575).
AJP/PRST-PER
B. Ibrahim, L. Ding, D. White, R. Badeau, and A. Heckler, Synthesis problems: role of mathematical complexity in students' problem solving strategies, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2016, Sacramento, CA, 2016, <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14221&DocID=4575>.
APA Format
Ibrahim, B., Ding, L., White, D., Badeau, R., & Heckler, A. (2016, July 20-21). Synthesis problems: role of mathematical complexity in students' problem solving strategies. Paper presented at Physics Education Research Conference 2016, Sacramento, CA. Retrieved December 17, 2017, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14221&DocID=4575
Chicago Format
Ibrahim, B, L. Ding, D. White, R. Badeau, and A. Heckler. "Synthesis problems: role of mathematical complexity in students' problem solving strategies." Paper presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2016, Sacramento, CA, July 20-21, 2016. https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14221&DocID=4575 (accessed 17 December 2017).
MLA Format
Ibrahim, Bashirah, Lin Ding, Daniel White, Ryan Badeau, and Andrew F. Heckler. "Synthesis problems: role of mathematical complexity in students' problem solving strategies." Physics Education Research Conference 2016. Sacramento, CA: 2016. 168-171 of PER Conference. 17 Dec. 2017 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14221&DocID=4575>.
BibTeX Export Format
@inproceedings{ Author = "Bashirah Ibrahim and Lin Ding and Daniel White and Ryan Badeau and Andrew F. Heckler", Title = {Synthesis problems: role of mathematical complexity in students' problem solving strategies}, BookTitle = {Physics Education Research Conference 2016}, Pages = {168-171}, Address = {Sacramento, CA}, Series = {PER Conference}, Month = {July 20-21}, Year = {2016} }
Refer Export Format

%A Bashirah Ibrahim
%A Lin Ding
%A Daniel White
%A Ryan Badeau
%A Andrew F. Heckler
%T Synthesis problems: role of mathematical complexity in students' problem solving strategies
%S PER Conference
%D July 20-21 2016
%P 168-171
%C Sacramento, CA
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14221&DocID=4575
%O Physics Education Research Conference 2016
%O July 20-21
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Conference Proceedings
%A Ibrahim, Bashirah
%A Ding, Lin
%A White, Daniel
%A Badeau, Ryan
%A Heckler, Andrew F.
%D July 20-21 2016
%T Synthesis problems: role of mathematical complexity in students' problem solving strategies
%B Physics Education Research Conference 2016
%C Sacramento, CA
%P 168-171
%S PER Conference
%8 July 20-21
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14221&DocID=4575


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