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Abstract Title: Towards understanding learning challenges involving sign conventions in introductory level kinematics
Abstract: Coming to appropriately appreciate the meaning of algebraic signs is an important aspect in introductory kinematics. However, in this educational context, the "disciplinary affordances" [1], [2] of algebraic signs across vector and scalar representations are extremely difficult to discern. Our study explores the "relevance structure" [3] that various one-dimensional kinematics problems evoke for introductory level university physics students across two very different educational systems: Sweden (n=60) and South Africa (n=24). The outcomes of an existing PER study [4] are used to provide the analytic set of categories of relevance structure and a contemporary PER-developed social semiotics perspective [2] is used to discuss implications for teaching in the given educational context.

[1] T. Fredlund, J. Airey, and C. Linder, "Exploring the role of physics representations: an illustrative example from students sharing knowledge about refraction," Eur. J. Phys., vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 657–666, 2012.
[2] Disciplinary affordance is defined as: "the agreed meaning making function that a semiotic resource fulfills for a particular disciplinary community" (p.106). J. Airey and C. Linder, "Social Semiotics in University Physics Education," in Multiple Representations in Physics Education, D. F. Treagust, R. Duit, and H. E. Fischer, Eds. Springer, 2017, pp. 95–122.
[3] Relevance structure is defined as: "the person's experience of what the situation calls for, what it demands. It is a sense of aim, of direction, in relation to which different aspects of a situation appear more or less relevant" (p.143). F. Marton and S. Booth, Learning and Awareness. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1997.  
[4] N. Govender, "Physics student teachers' mix of understandings of algebraic sign convention in vector-kinematics: A phenomenographic perspective," African J. Res. Math. Sci. Technol. Educ., vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 61–73, 2007.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session I
Poster Number: A22
Contributed Paper Record: Contributed Paper Information
Contributed Paper Download: Download Contributed Paper

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Moa Eriksson
Lund University, Uppsala University
Non U.S.
Co-Author(s)
and Co-Presenter(s)
Cedric Linder, Uppsala University
Urban Eriksson, Lund University

Contributed Poster

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