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Abstract Title: Characterizing the mathematical problem-solving strategies of advanced novice physics students
Abstract: Much work has been done to characterize the reasoning of students as they solve mathematics-intensive problems. In this work, we characterize the problem-solving strategies in a classroom setting of advanced novices: students who have completed an introductory physics course but are far from expert-like in their reasoning. We find that students mostly use intermediate strategies that reflect an understanding of specific relationships between quantities, such as analyzing the units of an expression, to reason about mathematical expressions. Few students use more sophisticated strategies like checking limits, which require students to make predictions about how a system will behave. Our results show that there is a need to recognize and teach these intermediary strategies to enable more novice students to check their answers. The teaching of more advanced strategies like limit checking will require careful scaffolding, as students generally do not succeed when simply told to check limits.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session I
Poster Number: 1.M4

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Lena Blackmon
Department of Applied Physics, Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305
Phone: 8604061416
and Co-Presenter(s)
Eric Burkholder, Department of Physics, Stanford University
Carl Wieman, Department of Physics and Graduate School of Education, Stanford University