135

July 26–30, 2014

Location: STSS 230

Sponsor: Committee on Science Education for the Public

Co-Sponsor: Committee on Professional Concerns

Date: Wednesday, July 30

Time: 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

Presider: Steve Shropshire

Join demonstration and outreach experts in a panel discussion on ongoing

efforts to develop a “How-To” guide for physics on the road outreach.

Location: STSS 330

Sponsor: Committee on Women in Physics

Co-Sponsor: Committee on International Physics Education

Date: Wednesday, July 30

Time: 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Presider: TBA

The 5th International Conference on Women in Physics will be held in

Canada in August 2014. Come hear about plans for the conference.

Location: STSS 220

Sponsor: AAPT

Date: Wednesday, July 30

Time: 1–3 p.m.

Presider: Hunter Close

GA01:

1-1:10 p.m. Vector Addition in Different Contexts: A

Fine-Grained Study

Contributed – Philip B. Southey, University of Cape Town, 10 Zion Road,

Claremont, Cape Town, WC 7700 South Africa;

Saalih Allie, University of Cape Town

The acquisition metaphor of learning is often used by teachers of physics:

Students acquire a particular concept, and then transfer this concept to

new contexts. In particular, one might say students acquire the mathemat-

ical concept of “vector addition” and apply it in (transfer it to) numerous

physical contexts. In this study, 200 freshmen taking an introductory

physics course were asked to calculate the total force, total displacement

and total momentum in simple contexts involving vector addition at right

angles. Another similar group of 200 students were asked to calculate

the net force, net displacement, and net momentum. The students did

significantly worse when adding momenta, and they did significantly

better when asked to calculate the “net” quantity (rather than the “total”

quantity). These results are inconsistent with a basic “acquisition -transfer”

perspective of learning. A fine-grained analysis of subsequent interviews

and questionnaires was also conducted.

GA02:

1:10-1:20 p.m. Adding and Subtracting Vectors: The

Problem with the Arrow Representation

Contributed – Andrew F. Heckler, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

43210;

Thomas M. Scaife, University of Wisconsin - Platteville

While a number of studies have investigated student understanding

of vector addition and subtraction as relevant to introductory physics,

virtually all of these studies have only considered the arrow representa-

tion of vectors. In this study, we demonstrate that significantly -- and often

overwhelmingly -- more students can correctly add and subtract vectors in

the textual, component ijk-format compared to the arrow format in both

generic and physics contexts. Furthermore, by prompting students for

physical explanations of results, we find that students also exhibit an equal

if not better understanding in the ijk-format compared to the arrow for-

mat. The arrow format typically induces an intuitive application of arrows,

often resulting in incorrect answers. Overall, we find that the ijk-format

tends to prompt students to use the arrow format correctly (and not vice

versa), and this suggests that teaching the arrow format alone may not be

as productive as teaching both representations simultaneously.

GA03:

1:20-1:30 p.m. Training Factors Affecting Improvement

in Student Fluency with Vector Algebra

Contributed – Brendon D. Mikula, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

43210-1168;

Andrew F. Heckler,The Ohio State University

In addition to struggling with deep comprehension of physics concepts,

students also struggle with essential, procedural skills that are necessary for

the types of problem solving expected of them during introductory physics

classes. Students in both semesters of introductory physics (mechanics and

E&M) and in multiple populations (algebra and calculus-based) have been

shown to struggle with the essential skills of computing vector compo-

nents and vector products. In this presentation, we present data on the

effectiveness of a number of training conditions on student fluency with

these vector skills. Through the use of simple computer-based training with

answer-based feedback, the effects of different types of feedback—as well as

the presentation order of sub-skills and concepts—are investigated.

GA04:

1:30-1:40 p.m. Evaluating Mathematics Skills and

Impact in a First-Semester Mechanics Course

Contributed – William R. Evans, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,

303 Paddock Dr. W, Apt A1, Savoy, IL 61874;

A collection of targeted math skills questions were developed and incor-

porated into the standard, weekly homework exercises in a first semester,

calculus-based mechanics course for science and engineering majors at

the University of Illinois. These questions were designed to test the math

skills that would nominally be used during the homework that week. This

presentation gives our analysis of the students’ performance on the math

skills questions as compared with the corresponding physics questions. We

conclude by discussing some of the implications of this study in regards

to transfer of learning and possible contributing factors toward student

difficulties in mechanics, as well as possibilities for improving student

performance in calculation-based exercises.

GA05:

1:40-1:50 p.m. Student Strategies Solving Graphically

Based Physics Problems Invoking the Fundamental

Theorem of Calculus

Contributed – Rabindra R. Bajracharya, University of Maine, Orono, ME

04469;

John R. Thompson, University of Maine

We have been investigating student understanding and application of the

Fundamental Theorem of Calculus (FTC) in different physics contexts in-

volving definite integrals. We conducted 14 semi-structured individual in-

terviews with introductory physics students. Our analysis, using grounded

theory, elicited various strategies to solve graphically based FTC problems.

While many students struggled initially, at some point during the inter-

views students displayed the relevant and requisite mathematical knowl-

edge, suggesting that they failed to access and/or apply the knowledge in

the given physics contexts. Similar to prior studies on students dealing with

mathematically based physics problems, we found the analysis perspectives

of epistemological framing and epistemic games productive in interpret-

ing some of the choices of strategies, the strategies themselves, and some

individual steps observed. The framing perspective helps explain students’

strategy-switching based on representations available or context familiarity.

We discuss our findings and relate our results to those in the literature.

SEO Version