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PERC 2015 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Student conflation of light energy and kinetic energy
Abstract: The relationship between light and energy is important for understanding a variety of physics concepts and shows up in many introductory physics courses. Using free-response conceptual questions in an algebra-based introductory physics course, we found that even pre-instruction, students can rank the types of light on the electromagnetic spectrum (e.g., X-rays, microwaves, etc.) in terms of their energy and frequency. They appear to draw on knowledge from personal experience, as well as previous classes, to justify their claims. However, we also see evidence that some students connect light energy to kinetic energy and therefore, claim that different types of light travel at different speeds. This is despite often explicitly stating that all travel at the speed of light. These results are consistent with the knowledge-in-pieces framework that claims that students may have correct pieces of knowledge, but may inappropriately apply them in certain contexts or may not reconcile conflicting ideas.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Lorne Nash
DePaul University
2240 N Sheffield Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: 708-941-8450
and Co-Presenter(s)
Dr. Mary Bridget Kustusch, Dr. Susan M Fischer