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Abstract Title: Excerpts from an exploratory survey of units/dimensional analysis in introductory physics
Abstract: Proficiency in units/dimensional analysis is a useful skill in the sciences and engineering, and STEM instructors often presume competence from their students in this area. However, unit analysis techniques and unit systems are not always formally taught, and even with explicit emphasis during instruction, many students lack the repeated exposure necessary to master them.  To assess student understanding of units and unit systems, we administered a brief, itemized survey to N=53 calculus-based introductory university physics students. The survey was intended to uncover possible misconceptions and identify previously unknown obstacles to student success within this topic. Our results suggest that as many as half of surveyed participants may not recognize the adaptability of symbolic physical equations to different unit systems. Furthermore, a similar proportion failed to eliminate non-viable answer choices involving analytic functions with units inside their arguments. Consequently, we believe units/dimensional analysis is a topic ripe for further investigation.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session I
Poster Number: 1.L2
Contributed Paper Record: Contributed Paper Information
Contributed Paper Download: Download Contributed Paper

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Nathaniel Amos
Florida Gulf Coast University
Fort Myers, FL 33965
and Co-Presenter(s)
David Harris, Florida Institute of Technology
Jeffrey Hutchinson, Florida Gulf Coast University