NotesFAQContact Us
Collection
Advanced
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ820528
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1554-9178
Plasticity of Intermediate Mechanics Students' Coordinate System Choice
Sayre, Eleanor C.; Wittman, Michael C.
Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, v4 n2 p020105-1--020105-14 Jul-Dec 2008
We investigate the interplay between mathematics and physics resources in intermediate mechanics students. In the mechanics course, the selection and application of coordinate systems is a consistent thread. At the University of Maine, students often start the course with a strong preference to use Cartesian coordinates, in accordance with their prior physics and mathematics classes. In small-group interviews and in homework help sessions, we ask students to define a coordinate system and set up the equations of motion for a simple pendulum for which polar coordinates are more appropriate. We analyze video data from several encounters using a combination of Process/Object theory and Resource Theory. We find that students sometimes persist in using an inappropriate Cartesian system. Furthermore, students often derive (rather than recall) the details of the polar coordinate system, indicating that their knowledge is far from solid. To describe our work more precisely, we define a scale of plasticity and several heuristics for defining resources and their plasticity. (Contains 9 figures, 1 table, and 55 notes.)
American Physical Society. One Physics Ellipse 4th Floor, College Park, MD 20740-3844. Tel: 301-209-3200; Fax: 301-209-0865; e-mail: assocpub@aps.org; Website: http://prst-per.aps.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A