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Abstract Title: Drawing physical insight from mathematics via extreme case reasoning
Abstract: We sought to use students' strong physical intuition for extreme cases to prompt shifts in their problem-solving strategies and frames. In interviews, when students are prompted to examine the extreme cases of a scenario they've been analyzing, they shift towards an epistemic frame of seeking coherence between physical intuition and mathematical formalisms. At the same time, they generalize their conclusions about extreme cases to the general case and recast extreme-case reasoning from an evaluative tool (e.g. Is this answer correct?) to a generative one (e.g. What form could the correct answer possibly take?). This suggests the usefulness of epistemic games such as examining extreme cases, dimensional analysis, and estimation in making math a productive tool for students in introductory physics for life sciences.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Mark Eichenlaub
University of Maryland
4150 Campus Dr.
College Park, MD 20742
Phone: 2037449427
and Co-Presenter(s)
Edward F. Redish, University of Maryland
Deborah Hemingway, University of Maryland