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Abstract Title: Vector Addition in Different Contexts
Abstract: The acquisition metaphor of learning is often used by teachers of physics: Students acquire a particular concept and transfer this concept to new contexts. For example, one might argue that students acquire the mathematical concept of "vector addition" and apply it in different physical contexts. In this study, 200 freshmen taking an introductory physics course were asked to calculate total force, total displacement and total momentum in simple contexts involving vector addition at right angles. Another similar group of 200 students were asked to calculate net force, net displacement, and net momentum.  The students asked to calculate the "net" quantity did significantly better than the students asked to calculate the "total" quantity. The students did significantly worse when adding momenta (as opposed to adding forces or displacements). These results are inconsistent with a basic "acquisition–transfer" perspective of learning. An analysis of subsequent interviews and questionnaires was also conducted.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Philip Southey
University of Cape Town
10 Zion Road
Cape Town, 7708
Phone: 27732495757
and Co-Presenter(s)
Saalih Allie, University of Cape Town

Contributed Paper

Contributed Paper: Download the Contributed Paper