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Abstract Title: Teaching Graphs in Introductory Physics: Interpretation vs. Construction
Abstract: It is generally agreed that the ability to visualize functional dependencies or physical relationships as graphs is an important step in modeling and learning. However, several studies in PER have shown that many students in fact do not master this form of representation and even have misconceptions about the meaning of graphs that impede learning physics concepts. Thus, time needs to be taken in instruction to address these issues. Electronic homework could provide a time-efficient means to give students an opportunity to practice graphing, yet most mainstream course management systems are at best capable of providing interpretation exercises. We believe the ability to construct a graph is of a fundamentally different quality from merely interpreting a given graph, and thus implemented a new graph construction homework type in the LON-CAPA course management system. A study of pre/post-test data using the Test of Understanding Graphs in Kinematics (TUG-K) over several semesters indicates that students learn significantly more from these graph construction problems than from the usual graph interpretation problems and that graph interpretation alone may not have any significant effect.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: James T. Laverty
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
and Co-Presenter(s)
Gerd Kortemeyer