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Abstract Title: Physics students and matrix multiplication: evaluating their interpretations
Abstract: Matrix algebra is a commonly applied mathematical tool in physics that can be used in classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, optics, and more. A recent study arising from the Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education community suggests that students use three mathematical interpretations of matrix multiplication: linear combination, system of equations, and transformations [Larson & Zandieh, 2013], but there are no corresponding studies in PER. We have investigated student written responses [N=43] and student interviews [N=3] to examine how physics students interpret matrix equations using the three interpretations to classify their responses. In this poster, we evaluate both types of data with the primary emphasis on the student interviews. Preliminary results suggest that physics students prefer using the transformations interpretation, which corresponds to interpreting a matrix transforming, or 'acting on' a vector, giving a new vector.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session 2 Room B
Poster Number: 2B-22

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Pachi Her
California State University, Fullerton
and Co-Presenter(s)
Michael Loverude