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ERIC Number: EJ1156479
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Nov
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-9120
Graphs in Kinematics--A Need for Adherence to Principles of Algebraic Functions
Sokolowski, Andrzej
Physics Education, v52 n6 Article 065017 Nov 2017
Graphs in physics are central to the analysis of phenomena and to learning about a system's behavior. The ways students handle graphs are frequently researched. Students' misconceptions are highlighted, and methods of improvement suggested. While kinematics graphs are to represent a real motion, they are also algebraic entities that must satisfy conditions for being algebraic functions. To be algebraic functions, they must pass certain tests before they can be used to infer more about motion. A preliminary survey of some physics resources has revealed that little attention is paid to verifying if the position, velocity and acceleration versus time graphs, that are to depict real motion, satisfy the most critical condition for being an algebraic function; the vertical line test. The lack of attention to this adherence shows as vertical segments in piecewise graphs. Such graphs generate unrealistic interpretations and may confuse students. A group of 25 college physics students was provided with such a graph and asked to analyse its adherence to reality. The majority of the students (N = 16, 64%) questioned the graph's validity. It is inferred that such graphs might not only jeopardize the function principles studied in mathematics but also undermine the purpose of studying these principles. The aim of this study was to bring this idea forth and suggest a better alignment of physics and mathematics methods.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A