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Role of Mathematics in Learning Physics
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Physics Didactics. University of the Western Cape. (Physics Education Research)
2016 (English)Conference paper, Poster (with or without abstract) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Recent PER work has begun to produce compelling evidence that many physics students lack essential parts of mathematics conceptual understanding, which results in severely limiting the possibility of working appropriately and/or productively with problem solving, and/or effect further advanced learning in a range of negative ways (e.g., Christensen & Thompson, 2012). In South Africa, with the dire state of mathematics education at upper secondary and introductory university levels, it is therefore to be expected that physics teaching and learning would be negatively impacted. The broad aim of my PhD study is to embark on a series of studies that explore the teaching and learning relations between mathematical knowledge and constructing appropriate ways of understanding and applying physics. The theoretical framing will build on the work of Airey & Linder (2009), who argued that in undergraduate physics there is a critical constellation of semiotic resources that are needed in order to make appropriate learning possible. By semiotic resources is meant language, graphs, diagrams, laboratory work, apparatus, mathematics, etc. Duval (2006) argues that whilst many teachers focus on teaching mathematical operations (what he calls treatment), the main problem occurs in the movement between one semiotic system and another (what he terms conversion). One way of analysing this movement between the various modes of representing a discipline is in terms of transduction, coined by Gunther Kress (1997) (see also Bezemer & Kress, 2008, for an updated definition). A number of researchers have identified this movement as critical for the ability to do physics (e.g. Lemke, 1998; Van Heuvelen, 1991; Mc Dermott 1990). This study will investigate the teaching and learning relations between semiotic resources in mathematics and physics. Video and interview data will be collected of students working with experimental design (the IOLab) that potentially encourages transduction, with a strong possibility for comparative data collection in Sweden and South Africa.

References

  1. Airey, J. (2015). Social Semiotics in Higher Education: Examples from teaching and learning in undergraduate physics. In Concorde Hotel/National Institute of Education, Singapore, 3-5 November 2015 (p. 103). Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research in Higher Education (STINT). urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-266049.
  2. Airey, J., & Linder, C. (2009). A disciplinary discourse perspective on university science learning: Achieving fluency in a critical constellation of modes. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(1), 27–49.
  3. Bezemer, J. and Kress, G. (2008). Writing in multimodal texts: a social semiotic account of designs for learning.   Written Communication, 25(2), 166–195.
  4. Christensen W., & Thompson J. (2012). Investigating graphical representations of slope and derivative without a physics context. Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 8, 023101.
  5. Duval, R. (2006) A cognitive analysis of problems of comprehension in a learning of mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 61(1), 103–131.
  6. Fredlund, T., Airey, J., and Linder, C. (2012). Exploring the role of physics representations: an illustrative example from students sharing knowledge about refraction. European Journal of Physics, 33, 657–666.
  7. Kress, G. (1997). Before Writing: Rethinking the Paths to Literacy. London & New York: Routledge.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
Keywords [en]
social semiotics, multimodality, transduction, disciplinary affordance, pedagogical affordance
National Category
Other Physics Topics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-318513OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-318513DiVA, id: diva2:1084476
Conference
Introduction to Subject Education PhD Course Conference, Blåsenhus Entrance Hall, Uppsala University, Uppsala, 8 November 2016.
Available from: 2017-03-24 Created: 2017-03-24 Last updated: 2017-03-27Bibliographically approved

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Volkwyn TS - Intro to SE course poster(1977 kB)34 downloads
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