Student Understanding of Differentials in Introductory Physics Documents

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Student Understanding of Differentials in Introductory Physics 

written by Nathaniel R. Amos and Andrew F. Heckler

Evidence suggests that a major obstacle to student success in the construction of physics integrals is an inability to formulate and interpret differentials and products involving differentials. In differentials training, we conducted a controlled experiment at the introductory level to assess the effects of electronic feedback and physical context. This between-students design featured pairs of similarly-styled training tasks that varied by physical context, either on paper without feedback or on a computer with electronic feedback. A post-test featuring all physical contexts and several transfer questions was given to all conditions. We found significant differences in post-test score among the various physical contexts. Also, training with electronic feedback was seen to outperform both Control and paper-based training without feedback.

Published December 18, 2015
Last Modified December 27, 2015

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