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PERC 2012 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Reading computational code to inform predictions of time-varying computational models
Abstract: Computational code is a different type of scientific text, where code defining physics quantities and principles is commingled with functions defined by the programming language. In a recent study, physics students were asked to read through computational code and draw a prediction of the visual output produced by short example programs written in VPython. These example programs strategically omit key lines of code representing fundamental physics principles. Student drawings and discussions reveal how students worked together to interpret the lines of code that constrain the motions of 3D objects in the visual output. Student predictions blend together information from the computational code with knowledge about the motion of real-world physical systems. We will present the example program code, some select student data, and the modifications to the instructional task that incorporate these findings.
Abstract Type: Symposium Talk
Targeted Session: Reading of scientific texts as means of exposing students to authentic disciplinary practices

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Shawn Weatherford
Department of Mathematics and Sciences, Saint Leo University
and Co-Presenter(s)
Ruth Chabay
Department of Physics, North Carolina State University