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ERIC Number: ED492856
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Aug
Pages: 5
Abstractor: Author
Using the System Schema Representational Tool to Promote Student Understanding of Newton's Third Law
Hinrichs, Brant E.
Online Submission, Paper presented at the Physics Education Research Conference (PERC) (Sacramento, CA, Aug 4-5, 2004) (Session CP-IP10)
The purpose of this study was to examine the effect on student understanding of Newton's Third Law in an introductory calculus-based physics class when a new graphical representational tool called a system schema was used throughout instruction to help visualize objects and interactions between them explicitly. The system schema serves as an intermediate representation between an actual physical scenario and the rather abstract free-body diagram. Two groups of students were compared in terms of their achievement on the four Third Law questions on the Force Concept Inventory (FCI). The FCI was given both before (pre) and after (post) instruction. The pre-test scores were statistically identical for both groups of students. The same instructor taught both groups of students over a period of five years. The first two years the system schema was not used in instruction. The last two years, the system schema was used extensively throughout instruction. Other aspects of instruction on Newton's Third Law were not significantly different during the five year period. Results indicate that the introduction and use of the system schema gave statistically significant improvement in students' (post-test) answers to the four Third Law questions on the FCI. Results show that students might have started to use the system schema as a physics "resource" when answering physics questions about force and the Third Law. Physics teachers should consider using the system schema in their introductory physics courses, since multiple representations, especially those that mediate between a simple physical scenario and the very abstract free-body diagram can help students to better understand force as an interaction between two objects. (Contains 2 figures and 2 tables.)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A