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Abstract Title: Changing The Notation That Represents A Force Changes How Students Say It
Abstract: To facilitate both learning about forces and coordinating forces with the system schema, force symbols in University Modeling Instruction very carefully represent forces as detailed descriptions of interactions.  For example, FgE→B is used to represent the gravitational force by Earth on a ball, where "g" represents gravitational (i.e. the type of interaction), "E" represents Earth, → represents "by" and "on", and "B" represents ball.  Although students are taught to say FgE→B as "gravitational force", audio data from student-led whole-class discussions shows that more than 40% percent of the time FgE→B was referred to as "force gravity" instead.  Analogous results obtained for contact force symbols as well.  Because language plays such a crucial role in learning physics, several years ago, as an experiment, the notation was changed from FgE→B to gFE→B to make it more closely match how it is to be read.  Student use of "force gravity" and "force contact" dropped to less than 5% with this notation switch.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session II
Poster Number: B26
Contributed Paper Record: Contributed Paper Information
Contributed Paper Download: Download Contributed Paper

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Brant Hinrichs
drury university
and Co-Presenter(s)
Danya Swanson, Drury University

Contributed Poster

Contributed Poster: Download the Contributed Poster