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The Physics Teacher
written by Edward F. Redish
Making meaning with math in physics requires blending physical conceptual knowledge with mathematical symbology. Students in introductory physics classes often struggle with this, but it is an essential component of learning how to think with math. Teaching the dimensionality of measured quantities and dimensional analysis (DA) is a valuable first step in helping them learn to appreciate this difference. In this paper I discuss some of the issues associated with learning dimensional analysis and show some ways we can modify our instruction to help.

This paper is the first in a series of five articles on how to help students develop the scientific thinking skills required to effectively use mathematics in science. The author and publisher are temporarily offering this article for free access.

See Related Materials for links to the five additional articles that comprise this series. They consist of a Collection Overview plus articles covering the topics of estimation, anchor equations, toy models, and functional dependence.
The Physics Teacher: Volume 59, Issue 6, Pages 397-400
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education - Applied Research
- Pedagogy
Education - Basic Research
- Problem Solving
= Frameworks
= Processes
General Physics
- Measurement/Units
= Units and Dimensional Analysis
- Scientific Reasoning
Other Sciences
- Life Sciences
- Lower Undergraduate
- High School
- Reference Material
= Article
PER-Central Type Intended Users Ratings
- PER Literature
- Educators
- Professional/Practitioners
- Administrators
- Researchers
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Formats:
application/pdf
text/html
Access Rights:
Limited free access
License:
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-No derivatives 4.0 license.
Rights Holder:
Redish, E.F.
DOI:
10.1119/5.0021244
NSF Numbers:
DUE-1504366
DUE-1624478
Keywords:
IPLS, Introductory Physics for Life Sciences, fundamental constants, sense making
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created May 18, 2023 by Sam McKagan
Record Updated:
June 22, 2023 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
September 2, 2021
Other Collections:

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Record Link
AIP Format
E. Redish, , Phys. Teach. 59 (6), 397 (2021), WWW Document, (https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0021244).
AJP/PRST-PER
E. Redish, Using Math in Physics: 1. Dimensional Analysis, Phys. Teach. 59 (6), 397 (2021), <https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0021244>.
APA Format
Redish, E. (2021, September 2). Using Math in Physics: 1. Dimensional Analysis. Phys. Teach., 59(6), 397-400. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0021244
Chicago Format
Redish, Edward F.. "Using Math in Physics: 1. Dimensional Analysis." Phys. Teach. 59, no. 6, (September 2, 2021): 397-400, https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0021244 (accessed 21 June 2024).
MLA Format
Redish, Edward F.. "Using Math in Physics: 1. Dimensional Analysis." Phys. Teach. 59.6 (2021): 397-400. 21 June 2024 <https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0021244>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "Edward F. Redish", Title = {Using Math in Physics: 1. Dimensional Analysis}, Journal = {Phys. Teach.}, Volume = {59}, Number = {6}, Pages = {397-400}, Month = {September}, Year = {2021} }
Refer Export Format

%A Edward F. Redish %T Using Math in Physics: 1. Dimensional Analysis %J Phys. Teach. %V 59 %N 6 %D September 2, 2021 %P 397-400 %U https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0021244 %O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article %A Redish, Edward F. %D September 2, 2021 %T Using Math in Physics: 1. Dimensional Analysis %J Phys. Teach. %V 59 %N 6 %P 397-400 %8 September 2, 2021 %U https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0021244


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The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The AJP/PRST-PER presented is based on the AIP Style with the addition of journal article titles and conference proceeding article titles.

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Using Math in Physics: 1. Dimensional Analysis:

Accompanies Using Math in Physics: Overview

A link to the overview article by E.F. Redish that explains how all items in this collection are related to the topic, "Using Math in Physics".

relation by Caroline Hall
Accompanies Using Math in Physics: 2. Estimation

This is a link to the second in this series of five articles: "Using Math in Physics 2: Estimation".

relation by Caroline Hall
Accompanies Using Math in Physics: 3. Anchor equations

A link to the third in this series of five articles: "Using Math in Physics 3: Anchor Equations".

relation by Caroline Hall
Accompanies Using Math in Physics: 4. Toy models

A link to the 4th in this series of five articles: "Using Math in Physics 4: Toy Models".

relation by Caroline Hall
Accompanies Using Math in Physics: 5. Functional dependence

A link to the fifth in this series of five articles: "Using Math in Physics 5: Functional Dependence".

relation by Caroline Hall

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