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Abstract Title: Seeking coherence and switching reasoning after forgetting an equation
Abstract: Selection and application of an appropriate equation is a key step in instructional problem-solving strategies. But what if one cannot exactly recall the relevant equation? We are currently investigating how coherence between physical and mathematical reasoning opens multiple solution pathways for qualitative physics problems. In one-on-one interviews, community college students, 4-year college undergraduates, and graduate students solved qualitative introductory-level E&M questions. Analysis of 18 interviews showed that while many students had initial difficulty in recalling a relevant equation, they demonstrated strategies for making progress. We present two cases from the data corpus. One interviewee was unsure whether the time constant for an RC circuit is RC or 1/(RC) and sought coherence with qualitative reasoning to determine the correct expression. Another student switched to reasoning qualitatively from a physical model after noting that they could not recall a relevant equation. These examples show how mathematical and physical reasoning is opportunistically incorporated in students' problem solving.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session 2 Room A
Poster Number: 2A-17
Contributed Paper Record: Contributed Paper Information
Contributed Paper Download: Download Contributed Paper

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Katherine Gifford
Adelphi University
Wantagh, NY 11793
Phone: 15163245500
and Co-Presenter(s)
Gabriel S. Ehrlich
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Engin Bumbacher
Haute École Pédagogique Vaud

Eric Kuo
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign