Location:

HC 3023 & 3023A 
Date:

Tuesday, Aug.2 
Time:

2:45 PM 2:55 PM

Author:

Trevor Smith, University of Maine
2075811022, Trevor.I.Smith@umit.maine.edu

CoAuthor(s):

John R. Thompson , Donald B. Mountcastle

Abstract:

One goal of physics instruction is to have students learn to make physical meaning of specific mathematical ideas, concepts and procedures, in different physical settings. We have reported on student difficulties with these connections in the contexts of integrals, total differentials, and partial derivatives in upperdivision thermal and statistical physics. As part of research investigating student understanding and use of the Boltzmann factor, we are developing materials that guide students through a derivation of the Boltzmann factor that includes a Taylor series expansion of entropy. Using results from written surveys, classroom observations, and individual thinkaloud and teaching interviews, we present evidence that while some students can recognize familiar expressions as Taylor expansions, students lack fluency with Taylor expansions at the level one might expect of advanced undergraduates, despite previous exposure to Taylor series expansions in both calculus and physics courses.

Footnotes:

None


