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Abstract Title: Changes in student reasoning about graphical work during introductory physics
Abstract: In a study on student understanding of graphical representations of work, students in introductory calculus-based physics were presented with a force-position graph (F-x) that showed two different mechanical processes with identical initial and identical final values for force and position.  The task, to compare the works done in each case, was administered at three points along the two-semester instructional sequence to probe differences in student responses and reasoning and compare findings to results from analogous questions in thermodynamics. Response prevalence varied little across administrations; however, the reasoning students used showed variation.  Analysis of reasoning used showed a higher use of "area under the curve" for a correct response, and a more prevalent invocation of "path independence" or "conservative forces" for the major incorrect interpretation, with instruction.  These findings support earlier speculation that thermodynamics students associate work with conservative forces due to introductory instruction.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: John R. Thompson
University of Maine
Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, U. Maine
5709 Bennett Hall
Orono, ME 04469-5709
Phone: 2075811030
and Co-Presenter(s)
Jessica W. Clark, University of Maine

Contributed Poster

Contributed Poster: Download the Contributed Poster