**ERIC Number:**ED562976

**Record Type:**Non-Journal

**Publication Date:**2013

**Pages:**198

**Abstractor:**As Provided

**Reference Count:**N/A

**ISBN:**978-1-3034-7889-5

**ISSN:**N/A

A Qualitative Study Comparing the Instruction on Vectors between a Physics Course and a Trigonometry Course

James, Wendy Michelle

ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Oklahoma State University

Science and engineering instructors often observe that students have difficulty using or applying prerequisite mathematics knowledge in their courses. This qualitative project uses a case-study method to investigate the instruction in a trigonometry course and a physics course based on a different methodology and set of assumptions about student learning and the nature of mathematics than traditionally used when investigating students' difficulty using or applying prerequisite mathematics knowledge. Transfer theory examined within a positivist or post-positivist paradigm is often used to investigate students' issue applying their knowledge; in contrast, this qualitative case-study is positioned using constructionism as an epistemology to understand and describe mathematical practices concerning vectors in a trigonometry and a physics course. Instructor interviews, observations of course lectures, and textbooks served as the qualitative data for in-depth study and comparison, and Saussure's (1959) concept of signifier and signified provided a lens for examining the data during analysis. Multiple recursions of within-case comparisons and across-case comparison were analyzed for differences in what the instructors and textbooks explicitly stated and later performed as their practices. While the trigonometry and physics instruction differed slightly, the two main differences occurred in the nature and use of vectors in the physics course. First, the "what" that is signified in notation and diagrams differs between contextualized and context-free situations, and second, physics instruction taught vectors very similar to trigonometry instruction when teaching the mathematics for doing physics, but once instruction focused on physics, the manner in which vector notation and diagrams are used differed from what is explicitly stated during mathematics instruction. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml.]

Descriptors: Case Studies, Trigonometry, Physics, Teaching Methods, Mathematics Skills, Knowledge Level, Transfer of Training, Qualitative Research, Science Instruction, Mathematics Instruction, Interviews, Observation, Lecture Method, Textbooks, Comparative Analysis, Geometric Concepts

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**Publication Type:**Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations

**Education Level:**N/A

**Audience:**N/A

**Language:**English

**Sponsor:**N/A

**Authoring Institution:**N/A