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Abstract Title: Why Do Students Distinguish Between Total Force and Net Force?
Abstract: In previous research we have shown that novice physics students distinguish between the concept of a net vector quantity and the concept of a total vector quantity. Introductory physics textbooks variably use the terms "net", "total" or "resultant" when referring to a vector sum, with some textbooks using these terms interchangeably. In particular, we have shown that students distinguish between the concepts of net force and total force, and the concepts of net momentum and total momentum. Phase two of this research has been to analyse the reasons students give for making these distinctions. Using an approach suggested by Grounded Theory, free responses from 400 freshmen have been analyzed and broad trends of reasoning have been identified. These trends are contrasted with foundational representational schemas posited by the cognitive sciences, such as "changing position versus changing state", and "interior viewpoint versus exterior viewpoint".
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Philip Southey
University of Cape Town
10 Zion Road
Cape Town, 7708
Phone: 732495757
and Co-Presenter(s)
Saalih Allie
University of Cape Town