Thesis Detail Page

written by Rachel E. Scherr
This dissertation reports on a systematic investigation of student understanding of the concepts of time and space in special relativity. During the investigation we have identified persistent difficulties with the definitions of the position and time of an event and with the concept of a reference frame. Many students do not think of a reference frame as a system of observers that determine the same position and time for any event. Instead, they interpret statements of the frame-dependence of the time of an event to mean that observers at different locations receive signals from events at different times. When asked to describe measurement procedures for spatial quantities, students do not spontaneously apply the formalism of a reference frame, but instead tend to associate events with moving objects in a manner consistent with indiscriminate application of length contraction.  Traditional instruction in relativity appears to have little effect on these ideas, which are present among students from the introductory to the graduate level in physics. We have applied the results from this research to guide the design of instructional materials to address some of the specific difficulties that we identified.
University: University of Washington
Academic Department:  Department of Physics
Pages 255
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Foundations
- Alternative Conceptions
Relativity
- Miscellaneous
- Spacetime Fundamentals
- Lower Undergraduate
- Upper Undergraduate
- Reference Material
= Research study
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Free access
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© 2001 Rachel Scherr
Keywords:
Reference Frame, education foundations, spacetime, special relativity
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created December 29, 2006 by Bruce Mason
Record Updated:
August 22, 2009 by Gregory Comer
Last Update
when Cataloged:
January 1, 2001
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Record Link
AIP Format
R. Scherr, University of Washington, 2001, WWW Document, (http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=4773&DocID=213).
AJP/PRST-PER
R. Scherr, An Investigation of Student Understanding of Basic Concepts in Special Relativity University of Washington, 2001, <http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=4773&DocID=213>.
APA Format
Scherr, R. (2001, January 1). An Investigation of Student Understanding of Basic Concepts in Special Relativity (University of Washington, 2001). Retrieved July 24, 2014, from http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=4773&DocID=213
Chicago Format
Scherr, Rachel. "An Investigation of Student Understanding of Basic Concepts in Special Relativity." University of Washington, 2001. http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=4773&DocID=213 (accessed 24 July 2014).
MLA Format
Scherr, Rachel. "An Investigation of Student Understanding of Basic Concepts in Special Relativity." 1 Jan. 2001. University of Washington, 2001. 24 July 2014 <http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=4773&DocID=213>.
BibTeX Export Format
@phdthesis{ Author = "Rachel Scherr", Title = {An Investigation of Student Understanding of Basic Concepts in Special Relativity}, School = {University of Washington}, Month = {January}, Year = {2001} }
Refer Export Format

%A Rachel Scherr
%T An Investigation of Student Understanding of Basic Concepts in  Special Relativity
%D January 1, 2001
%P 255
%I University of Washington
%U http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=4773&DocID=213
%O Department of Physics
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Thesis
%A Scherr, Rachel
%D January 1, 2001
%T An Investigation of Student Understanding of Basic Concepts in  Special Relativity
%B Department of Physics
%I University of Washington
%P 255
%8 January 1, 2001
%U http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=4773&DocID=213


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