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Abstract Title: Proportional Reasoning in Physics: What are students thinking? How can we help?
Abstract: Despite a significant emphasis on ratio strategies in precollege mathematics, many students have difficulty reasoning about ratio quantities in college physics. Research shows that students who struggle with simple questions that involve proportional reasoning tend to be less successful in introductory physics classes1. This should hardly be surprising: the introductory course makes extensive use of proportional relationships between physical quantities in increasingly abstract contexts, and we teach assuming that students understand the algebraic representations and the proportionalities they imply.

This session brings together current work on student thinking and learning about proportions. We'll explore the mismatch between our expectations and how well students actually reason about proportions, some productive and unproductive ways students reason about ratio quantities in physics, an instructional method that promotes proportional reasoning, and its implementation in college physics courses.

1. Cohen, Hillman, and Agee, 1978; Griffith, 1985; Coletta & Phillips, 2005
Abstract Type: Targeted Poster Session

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Suzanne White Brahmia
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Phone: 732-445-5500 x3914

Targeted Poster Session Specific Information

Poster 1 Title: Assessment of Scientific Reasoning: A Case in Proportional Reasoning
Poster 1 Authors: Lei Bao, The Ohio State University
Jing Han, The Ohio State University
Kathy Koenig, Wright State University
Poster 2 Title: What do students think about when they think about proportions?
Poster 2 Authors: Andrew Boudreaux, Western Washington University
Poster 3 Title: Inventing-with-Contrasting-Cases: An instructional method that improves students' uptake of big ideas
Poster 3 Authors: Catherine C. Chase, Stanford University, School of Education
Daniel L. Schwartz, Stanford University, School of Education
Poster 4 Title: Inventing Physical Quantities as an Underpinning in Physics Courses
Poster 4 Authors: Suzanne White Brahmia, Rutgers University, Department of Physics and Astronomy