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Abstract Title: Algebra-Based Students & Vectors: Assessing Physical Understanding in Arrow vs ijk
Abstract: A recent study of calculus-based introductory physics students found that they performed significantly better on vector addition and subtraction tasks when the questions were given using the ijk representation instead of an ``arrows-on-a-grid'' representation, and also presented evidence that working knowledge of the ijk format was necessary to correctly perform vector operations in the arrow representation.  A subsequent study found that algebra-based physics students also performed significantly better in the ijk representation than the arrow representation in both one- and two-dimensional problems, even though no explicit ijk instruction was given in the course.  In a follow-up investigation we asked algebra-based physics students to physically interpret their answers, in order to assess if the higher performance on ijk questions indicates physical understanding or is the result of algorithmic ``plug-and-chug'' thinking.  Our findings will be presented along with instructional implications.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: John B. Buncher
North Dakota State University
Department of Physics, PO Box 6050
North Dakota State University
Fargo, ND 58108
Phone: 701-231-5780

Contributed Poster

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