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Abstract Title: Student Interpretations of Partial Derivatives
Abstract: We present results from an investigation into how students interpret partial derivatives at different points in their undergraduate career.  We gave a long-answer survey to students that asked them to explain the meaning of the derivative in three different contexts.  The survey was given near the beginning of a multivariable calculus class and at the start and end of a year-long junior-level physics sequence.  We found two common overarching interpretations of the derivative: one corresponding to "slope" and the other to "change."  We discuss the results using a concept image framework based on the work of Zandieh.  We also note differences in the response patterns of the students in the math and physics courses and differences in how students interpret the derivative across different representations of functions.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Paul J. Emigh
Oregon State University
and Co-Presenter(s)
Corinne A. Manogue