Featured project: IOLab

PER has developed the IOLab system, built around a low-cost, easy-to-use, all-purpose handheld device that performs a myriad of functions for both introductory and advanced physics courses.

Mathematical Communication in Physics

There may be students who perform poorly in our introductory physics courses not because of their inability to conceptually understand the physics content but because of their inability to mathematically communicate. Indeed, a dominant contributor to student failure in physics may be related to students’ inability to represent concepts with, and extract information from, the physics equations. We have found evidence that many students view the meaning of the physics equations primarily in terms of numeric computations. These students view the computational uses of the equations as completely separate from the conceptual relationships the equations express. Our research has focused on understanding student difficulties with mathematical communication and the pedagogical practices effective at overcoming these difficulties