TOMORROW | Investigating Students’ Use of Mathematical Tools in Physics


I hope that many of you can join us for the upcoming research talk by Leanne Doughty, a candidate for our postdoctoral researcher position on the Learning Assistant Program research grant. Please let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to seeing you there.

Wednesday, October 7th from 11:00-12:30 in LSC 745.

Investigating Students’ Use of Mathematical Tools in Physics
Leann Doughty, Michigan State University

Abstract: Across STEM fields we frequently use math to model phenomenon and make predictions. Learning to use sophisticated math tools is therefore a core element of a student’s preparation in all STEM disciplines. This is especially true in physics where, as students progress through their course sequence, physical models and the math required to interpret and use these models become increasingly complex. My research focuses on investigating how students understand and use math tools in their physics courses using two different approaches. One approach focuses on analyzing written responses to specifically designed tasks to identify difficulties students have using specific math tools. The other approach examines students’ in-the-moment reasoning through the analysis of video recordings of students group problem-solving. The analysis of in-situ data facilitates insight into how students decide to use certain math tools and the ideas they consider while using them. This talk will discuss these two approaches, and present results and implications from both.