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2010 Summer Meeting

2011 AAPT Summer Meeting
July 30-August 3, 2011
Omaha, Nebraska

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FF09:

Student Difficulties Using Graphs Required for a Materials Science Course
  Location: SS Ballroom DE
  Date: Wednesday, Aug.3
  Time: 9:20 AM -9:30 AM
  Author: Rebecca Rosenblatt, The Ohio State University
614-460-9502, rosenblatt.rebecca@gmail.com
  Co-Author(s): Andrew Heckler
  Abstract: We report on a number of student difficulties with standard graphs and diagrams used in an university-level introductory materials science and engineering course. We investigated student understanding of a variety of graphs and diagrams including atomic bonding potential energy graphs, material concentration and diffusion graphs, stress-stain plots, and phase diagrams. Some of the difficulties with graphs are similar to those previously found in studies of introductory physics topics, such as students confounding slope with height and the failure to attend to the axis labels. However, we have identified a number of other difficulties specific to the type of graph or diagram used. For example, many students have difficulties both using the boundaries of an alloy phase diagram to derive information about the microstructure of the alloy and understanding the physical meaning of the boundaries between phases. We also report on the effectiveness of some graph activities implemented in recitation.
  Footnotes: None
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