Student reasoning about graphs in different contexts

Ivanjek, Lana and Sušac, Ana and Planinić, Maja and Andrašević, Aneta and Milin-Šipuš, Željka (2016) Student reasoning about graphs in different contexts. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 12 (1). pp. 10106-13. ISSN 2469-9896

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This study investigates university students’ graph interpretation strategies and difficulties in mathematics, physics (kinematics), and contexts other than physics. Eight sets of parallel (isomorphic) mathematics, physics, and other context questions about graphs, which were developed by us, were administered to 385 first-year students at the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb. Students were asked to provide explanations and/or mathematical procedures with their answers. Students’ main strategies and difficulties identified through the analysis of those explanations and procedures are described. Student strategies of graph interpretation were found to be largely context dependent and domain specific. A small fraction of students have used the same strategy in all three domains (mathematics, physics, and other contexts) on most sets of parallel questions. Some students have shown indications of transfer of knowledge in the sense that they used techniques and strategies developed in physics for solving (or attempting to solve) other context problems. In physics, the preferred strategy was the use of formulas, which sometimes seemed to block the use of other, more productive strategies which students displayed in other domains. Students’ answers indicated the presence of slope-height confusion and interval-point confusion in all three domains. Students generally better interpreted graph slope than the area under a graph, although the concept of slope still seemed to be quite vague for many. The interpretation of the concept of area under a graph needs more attention in both physics and mathematics teaching.

Item Type: Article
Date: 16 February 2016
Subjects: NATURAL SCIENCES > Mathematics
Additional Information: Copyright (2016) by the American Physical Society. Received 20 September 2014; revised manuscript received 6 July 2015; published 16 February 2016.
Divisions: Faculty of Science > Department of Mathematics
Faculty of Science > Department of Physics
Publisher: American Physical Society
Depositing User: Gordana Stubičan Ladešić
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2016 14:55
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2017 17:06

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