Unpacking Symbolic Equations in Introductory Physics
Abstract
Symbolic equations are one of the many representations used in physics. Understanding these representations is important for students because they are how students access knowledge in physics. In this paper I build off of the work by Redish and Kuo, which described the cultural differences between how math is used in math class and physics class, and the work by Fredlund et al, which described the importance of unpacking representations for physics student. I will describe how differences in the goals of numeric and symbolic problem solving lead to different set of affordances. In particular, the inability to distinguish variables, knowns, and unknowns in symbolic problem solving is a benefit when describing a generalized physical system. I also present evidence that observed errors when trying to solve symbolic problems are due to students acting on inappropriate cues associated with numeric problem solving.
 Publication:

arXiv eprints
 Pub Date:
 August 2015
 arXiv:
 arXiv:1508.00535
 Bibcode:
 2015arXiv150800535T
 Keywords:

 Physics  Physics Education
 EPrint:
 arXiv admin note: text overlap with arXiv:1112.3229