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ERIC Number: EJ977811
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 14
ISSN: ISSN-1554-9178
Investigating Graphical Representations of Slope and Derivative without a Physics Context
Christensen, Warren M.; Thompson, John R.
Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, v8 n2 p023101-1-023101-5 Jul-Dec 2012
By analysis of student use of mathematics in responses to conceptual physics questions, as well as analogous math questions stripped of physical meaning, we have previously found evidence that students often enter upper-level physics courses lacking the assumed prerequisite mathematics knowledge and/or the ability to apply it productively in a physics context. As an extension from this work on students' mathematical competency at the upper level in physics, we report on a preliminary investigation of mathematical understanding of fundamental concepts of slope and derivative among students in a third-semester multivariable calculus course. Among the first published findings of physics education research are investigations on students' understanding of kinematics, with particular attention to graphical representations of position-, velocity-, and acceleration-versus-time graphs. Underlying these physical quantities are relationships that depend on derivatives and slopes. We report on our findings as we attempt to isolate students' understanding of these mathematical concepts. (Contains 5 figures and 2 tables.)
American Physical Society. One Physics Ellipse 4th Floor, College Park, MD 20740-3844. Tel: 301-209-3200; Fax: 301-209-0865; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maine