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Negative quantities in mechanics: a fine-grained math and physics conceptual blend?
written by Suzanne White Brahmia
Physics experts move fluidly between varied meanings of the negative sign associated with physical quantities. Although researching student understanding of negative numbers is common in mathematics education, little research has been published that focuses on students' interpretation of negativity in the context of physics quantities. In this study, we investigated student reasoning about the negative sign associated with acceleration, work and position. A theoretical model of the mathematical nature of negativity guided our development of three open-ended survey items which were administered to students in introductory calculus-based physics courses. We observed that students who use vector direction as a resource to reason about negative acceleration and negative work tend to be more flexible across the three natures of negativity probed in our survey than students who use predominantly motion and energy-based reasoning. We followed up with a secondary study in which the intervention group was asked to explain their reasoning from a mathematical perspective in the context of negative work, and observed that this epistemic nudge led to significant improvement. We interpret the productive reasoning space associated with physics quantity as a tight cognitive blend in which the physics and the mathematics are indistinguishable. This interpretation departs from prior models based on separable physics worlds and math worlds.
Physics Education Research Conference 2017
Part of the PER Conference series
Cincinnati, OH: July 26-27, 2017
Pages 64-67
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Motion in One Dimension
= Acceleration
= Velocity
- Motion in Two Dimensions
= 2D Acceleration
= 2D Velocity
Education - Basic Research
- Learning Theory
= Transfer
- Student Characteristics
= Skills
General Physics
- Scientific Reasoning
Mathematical Tools
- Vector Algebra
- Lower Undergraduate
- Reference Material
= Research study
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Format:
application/pdf
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.2017.pr.011
Keyword:
PERC 2017
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created February 26, 2018 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
March 1, 2018 by Bruce Mason
Last Update
when Cataloged:
March 1, 2018
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Record Link
AIP Format
S. Brahmia, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2017, Cincinnati, OH, 2017, WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14570&DocID=4747).
AJP/PRST-PER
S. Brahmia, Negative quantities in mechanics: a fine-grained math and physics conceptual blend?, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2017, Cincinnati, OH, 2017, <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14570&DocID=4747>.
APA Format
Brahmia, S. (2017, July 26-27). Negative quantities in mechanics: a fine-grained math and physics conceptual blend?. Paper presented at Physics Education Research Conference 2017, Cincinnati, OH. Retrieved November 18, 2018, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14570&DocID=4747
Chicago Format
Brahmia, Suzanne White. "Negative quantities in mechanics: a fine-grained math and physics conceptual blend?." Paper presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2017, Cincinnati, OH, July 26-27, 2017. https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14570&DocID=4747 (accessed 18 November 2018).
MLA Format
Brahmia, Suzanne White. "Negative quantities in mechanics: a fine-grained math and physics conceptual blend?." Physics Education Research Conference 2017. Cincinnati, OH: 2017. 64-67 of PER Conference. 18 Nov. 2018 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14570&DocID=4747>.
BibTeX Export Format
@inproceedings{ Author = "Suzanne White Brahmia", Title = {Negative quantities in mechanics: a fine-grained math and physics conceptual blend?}, BookTitle = {Physics Education Research Conference 2017}, Pages = {64-67}, Address = {Cincinnati, OH}, Series = {PER Conference}, Month = {July 26-27}, Year = {2017} }
Refer Export Format

%A Suzanne White Brahmia
%T Negative quantities in mechanics: a fine-grained math and physics conceptual blend?
%S PER Conference
%D July 26-27 2017
%P 64-67
%C Cincinnati, OH
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14570&DocID=4747
%O Physics Education Research Conference 2017
%O July 26-27
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Conference Proceedings
%A Brahmia, Suzanne White
%D July 26-27 2017
%T Negative quantities in mechanics: a fine-grained math and physics conceptual blend?
%B Physics Education Research Conference 2017
%C Cincinnati, OH
%P 64-67
%S PER Conference
%8 July 26-27
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14570&DocID=4747


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Negative quantities in mechanics: a fine-grained math and physics conceptual blend?:


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