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Abstract Title: Student reasoning about whether a solution is "sensible"
Abstract: Practicing physicists value a variety of answer-checking behaviors such as reviewing units, limiting case analysis and numerical estimations, which we refer to as "the three usual ways" of answer-checking. Students, however, often do not adopt these behaviors even when the instruction includes explicit efforts to encourage it. In previous work we have documented settings in which all students demonstrate the ability to perform solution checks, finding that checking units is most readily adopted, limiting case analysis, less so, and numerical estimation, least of all. Here, undergraduates in two upper-level courses---electrodynamics and intermediate lab--- were asked to check whether a given solution is "sensible" and their responses were studied with an eye toward better understanding the "simple" mathematical and physical reasoning that was preferentially invoked. We report on stark differences between the two groups, largely related to previous instruction, we believe.
Abstract Type: Symposium Poster
Parallel Session: Probing understanding of the sophisticated use of "simple" mathematics in physics
Session Time: Parallel Sessions Cluster III

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Gary D. White
The George Washington University
and Co-Presenter(s)
Tiffany-Rose Sikorski, The George Washington University

Invited Presentation

Invited Presentation: Download the Invited Presentation