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Abstract Title: Mathematization and the "Boas course"
Abstract: Research on the use of mathematics in physics has included empirical and theoretical studies. We consider the implications of these studies on the mathematical methods course offered by many physics departments, often referred to as the 'Boas course' after a common textbook. Surveys of students entering such a course suggest that for many students the math in introductory courses consisted primarily of plugging numbers in formulas and execution of algebraic or arithmetic procedures. Data suggest that despite experience with procedures, many students entering math methods do not make sense of mathematical ideas relevant to upper-division physics. As a result, students arrive ill-prepared for physicist math and sensemaking. Models of learning and learning transfer suggest strongly that students will not spontaneously develop these skills by performing procedural exercises. The math methods course presents an ideal opportunity to develop these skills by explicitly practicing them in physics contexts.
Abstract Type: Juried Talk
Parallel Session: Juried Talks II

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Michael Loverude
California State University – Fullerton