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PERC 2018 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Natures of Negativity in Introductory Physics
Abstract: Mathematical reasoning skills are an important desired outcome of many introductory physics courses, particularly the calculus-based courses. Positive and negative quantities are ubiquitous in physics, and the sign carries important and varied meanings. Unlike physics experts, novices struggle to understand the many roles signed numbers can play in physics contexts, and recent evidence shows that unresolved striggle carries over to subsequent physics courses. The mathematics education research literature documents the cognitive challenge of conceptualizing negative numbers as mathematical objects – both for experts, historically, and for novices as they learn. We contribute to the small but growing body of physics education research that focusses on student reasoning about signed quantities and the role of the negative sign in models. This paper contributes a framework for categorizing the various natures of the negative sign in physics contexts, modeled on the established natures of negativity in algebra from the mathematics education research community. It is our hope that such a framework can help facilitate innovation in methods and curricular activities that can catalyze a deeper mathematical conceptualization of signed quantities from the introductory courses and beyond.
Abstract Type: Symposium Poster
Parallel Session: Probing understanding of the sophisticated use of "simple" mathematics in physics
Parallel Session: Parallel Sessions Cluster III
Contributed Paper Record: Contributed Paper Information
Contributed Paper Download: Download Contributed Paper

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Suzanne White Brahmia
University of Washington
and Co-Presenter(s)
Alexis Olsho, University of Washington
Trevor I. Smith, Rowan University
Andrew Boudreaux, Western Washington University

Invited Presentation

Invited Presentation: Download the Invited Presentation