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Abstract Title: Exploring Student Consistency in Vector Addition Method Choices
Abstract: The mathematical operation of two-dimensional vector addition arises in multiple physics contexts.  The vectors are presented with different features (axes, grids, etc.) depending on the values and physical contexts. As part of a larger survey developed by Van Deventer in 2007, we asked four two-dimensional vector addition questions, with different contextual features, in both a math and a physics context.  Consistent with the previous results of Meltzer and Nguyen (2003) we find that changing the graphical presentation of vectors may affect the methods students use to add vectors. We also conducted interviews consisting of two sets of five different two-dimensional vector addition questions with a distracter task between sets.  We expected that during the interviews students would change methods of vector addition based on the presentation of the vectors.  However, students used the method they used on the first representation, right or wrong, for all following representations.
Footnote:  Supported in part by NSF grant DRL-0633951.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Jeffrey Hawkins
University of Maine, Orono
6 Water St
Orono, ME 04473
and Co-Presenter(s)
John R. Thompson
Michael C. Wittmann