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Conference Papers Year : 1998

Physics learning with a computer Algebra systems: Towards a learning environment that promotes enhanced problem representations

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Abstract

To become proficient problem-solvers, physics students need to form a coherent and flexible understanding of problem situations they are confronted with. This is important both for solving problems and for interpreting solutions. Still, many students have only a limited representation of the problems they are working on. Therefore, we devised an instructional approach to promote students' understanding of these problems, and to support them in forming associations between problem features and solution methods. The approach was based on using the computer algebra software Mathematica as a tool for problem solving and visualisation. We implemented our approach in an electrostatics course module, and, in an experiment, we compared this module with the normal approach. Learning outcomes for both approaches were not significantly different. The experimental course, however, could successfully address a number of misconceptions. The experimental course students found the visualisation tools to be more instructive that the problem-solving tools. The experimental course was found to impose a high cognitive load on the students. Based on the outcomes, we propose how the course could be improved. We conclude that the experimental course could, with some improvements, be a valuable supplement to the usual teaching approach. ( http://www1.phys.uu.nl/savelsbe/physlern.pdf)
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Dates and versions

hal-00190844 , version 1 (23-11-2007)

Identifiers

  • HAL Id : hal-00190844 , version 1

Cite

Elwin Savelsbergh, Monica G. M. Ferguson-Hessler, Ton de Jong. Physics learning with a computer Algebra systems: Towards a learning environment that promotes enhanced problem representations. 71st Annual Meeting of the National Association For Research in Science Teaching (NARST), April 19-20, 1998., 1998, San Diego, United States. 34 p. ⟨hal-00190844⟩

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