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PERC 2014 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Exploring students’ use of visual representations in introductory electromagnetism
Abstract: In physics, we create simplified models of physical systems that are typically
represented using diagrams, graphs, or other figures. Often, there are multiple
visual representations available to illustrate the same model. While these
representations might appear different superficially, it is important that students
recognize that each illustrates the same model, and that students are able to
determine in which situations a particular representation might be most productive.
We conducted an exploratory study in which we observed introductory
electromagnetism students working in groups to complete an activity in which they
were asked to choose a representation of a charge distribution in order to answer
conceptual questions. In this activity, students were also asked to justify their choice of representation. We present a preliminary analysis that demonstrates at least two unique approaches to using these representations. This exploratory work is
informing new, more-focused studies of students' representation use in
introductory physics.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Alanna Pawlak
Michigan State University
and Co-Presenter(s)
Leanne Doughty - Michigan State University
Marcos D. Caballero - Michigan State University