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Representations in Undergraduate Physics
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Physics Didactics. (Physics Education Research)
2014 (English)Other (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Representations in undergraduate physics

Problem solving is one of the most important parts of undergraduate physics education, yet a huge body of international research has clearly shown that simply being able to solve a set of physics problems correctly is not a good indicator of students having attained appropriate physics understanding. Grounded in a comparison of the way experts and novices solve problems, the research focus has gradually shifted towards the importance of representational competence in solving physics problems.Physicists use a wide range of representations to communicate physics knowledge (e.g. mathematics,  graphs, diagrams, and spoken and written language, etc.). Many of these representations are highly specialized and have been developed and refined into their present form over time. It is the appropriate coordination of these different representations that allows complex physics meanings to be made and shared. Experienced physicists naturally maintain coherence as they move from one representation to the next in order to solve a physics problem. For students, however, learning to appropriately use physics representations in this way is a challenging task. This lecture addresses the critical role that representations play in undergraduate physics education. The research that has been carried out in this area will be summarized and a number of theoretical constructs that have been developed in the Division of Physics Education Research will be presented and illustrated using empirical data. The consequences of this research work for the teaching and learning of undergraduate physics will be discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
representation, undergraduate physics, educational research, semiotics
National Category
Didactics Other Physics Topics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-226598OAI: diva2:726817
Docent lecture, Ångström Laboratory, 9th June 2014
Swedish Research Council

Docent lecture, Ångström Laboratory, 9th June 2014

Available from: 2014-06-18 Created: 2014-06-18 Last updated: 2014-06-23Bibliographically approved

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Airey, John
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