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Abstract Title: Similar Density Questions with Very Different Results
Abstract: While developing a standardized fluids assessment covering buoyancy and pressure, we discovered deficiencies in student understanding of density.  In particular, many college students do not recognize that density is a fixed property of a solid substance, such as aluminum or gold.  We added questions to our diagnostic exam to probe the extent of student difficulties.  In one of our questions, only 50-60% of students recognize that the density of gold is a fixed value.  When similar questions from an existing diagnostic1 are used, however, 85-90% of students correctly identify the density of a piece of wood and of a diamond as fixed values.  In this paper we discuss the differences between these questions and how those differences affect student responses.
1 http://physics.fullerton.edu/~mloverud/densitysurvey.pdf.  R. Yeend, M. Loverude, and B. Gonzalez, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2001, Rochester, New York, 2001, WWW Document, (http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=4313&DocID=1045).
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Ashley Lindow
Grove City College
200 Campus Drive
Grove City, PA 16127
and Co-Presenter(s)
Elizabeth Carbone (Grove City College), DJ Wagner (Grove City College)