The Use of Graphing Technology to Promote Transfer of Learning: the Interpretation of Graphs in Physics.
This study examined the relationship between mathematics background and performance on graph-related problems in physics before and after instruction on the graphical analysis of motion and several microcomputer-based laboratory experiences. Students identified as either having or not having a graphing technology enhanced precalculus mathematics background were further categorized into one of four groups according to mathematics placement at the university. The performances of these groups were compared to identity differences. Pre- and Post-test data were collected from 589 students and 312 students during Autumn Quarter 1990 and Winter Quarter 1991 respectively. Background information was collected from each student. Significant differences were found between students with the technology enhanced mathematics background and those without when considering the entire populations both quarters. The students with the technology background were favored Autumn quarter and students without the technology background were favored Winter quarter. However, the entire population included an underrepresentation of students at the highest and lowest placements; hence, these were eliminated from the analyses. No significant differences were found between the technology/no technology groups after the elimination of the underrepresented groups. All categories of students increased their mean scores from pretest to post-test; the average increase was 8.23 points Autumn Quarter and 11.41 points Winter Quarter. Males consistently outperformed females on both the pretest and the post-test Autumn 1990. All students found questions involving the concept of acceleration more difficult than questions involving velocity or distance. Questions requiring students to create graphs were more difficult than questions requiring students to interpret graphs. Further research involving a qualitative component is recommended to identify the specific skills students use when solving graph-related physics problems. In addition, it is recommended that a similar study be conducted to include a control group not participating in the microcomputer -based laboratory experiments.
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- Education: Mathematics; Education: Technology; Physics: General