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Abstract Title: An Exploration of Students' Concept Images of Ordinary Differential Equations
Abstract: Modeling phenomena with ordinary differential equations (ODEs) is fundamental to physics. In the context of a project studying upper-division physics students' knowledge of ODEs, we identified various concept images. A concept image (Tall and Vinner, 1981) is a student's collective understanding of a topic. Several semesters' worth of graded and ungraded tasks were classified into a succinct coding scheme. Our preliminary findings suggest that students' concept images did not always include the formal mathematical definition: an equation relating a function and its derivatives. Further, when asked to generate a plausible physical situation from an ODE, students were mostly cued by the presence of recognizable symbols (e.g. lambda for wavelength) rather than the functional relationships in the ODE itself. In the future, we aim to construct more comprehensive concept images via improved questionnaires and interviews. This work is supported by the NSF (Grant: PHYS-1405616) and by the Dan Black Family Foundation.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session I
Poster Number: A87

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Anderson Fung
California State University, Fullerton
800 N State College Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92831
and Co-Presenter(s)
Michael Loverude (California State University, Fullerton)