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Abstract Title: Mathematical vs. Conceptual Understanding in Introductory Physics: Where do we draw the line?
Abstract: This research study involved high school physics students and studied how they learn to understand Newton's laws as they relate to falling bodies and projectile motion.  Students in introductory, algebra-based, high school physics classes were evaluated based on their prior knowledge of the subject and given a pretest to assess their initial comprehension of the motion of falling bodies and projectiles.  Groups were divided and taught separately with an emphasis on either mathematical derivation and application of equations, followed by brief conceptual discussions, or on thorough conceptual analysis, followed by a brief mathematical verification. After a posttest was given, an evaluation of the responses and explanations of each group of students was used to determine which method of instruction yielded greater learning gains among the two groups.  Results indicate that both methods achieved similar normalized gains in comprehension, but that in most areas, students in the conceptual group achieved slightly higher posttest scores.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Homeyra Sadaghiani
Cal Poly Pomona
3801 West Temple Ave.
Pomona, CA 91768
Phone: 909-869-5194
and Co-Presenter(s)
Nicholas Aguilera