Student Difficulties with Equations in Physics
ISAAPT Spring Meeting, Urbana, IL, April 2004 (Contributed Talk)
The ability to correctly apply equations in physics poses a major barrier to understanding in our classes. One of the reasons students have difficulties may be related to a confusion between algebra and arithmetic. Algebraic equations express relationships between variables, while arithmetic equations express a process to solve for an unknown. Some of the student difficulties with equations in physics may be related to arithmetic approaches to problems that require an understanding of algebraic relations. In my talk I will discuss observed student difficulties with the use of equations from this perspective.