Does using a visual-representation tool foster students’ ability to identify forces and construct free-body diagrams?
Savinainen, A., Mäkynen, A., Nieminen, P., & Viiri, J. (2013). Does using a visual-representation tool foster students’ ability to identify forces and construct free-body diagrams?. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.9.010104
© the Authors, 2013. Published by the American Physical Society.
Earlier research has shown that after physics instruction, many students have difficulties with the force concept, and with constructing free-body diagrams (FBDs). It has been suggested that treating forces as interactions could help students to identify forces as well as to construct the correct FBDs. While there is evidence that identifying interactions helps students in quantitative problem solving, there is no previous research investigating the effect of a visual-representation tool—an interaction diagram (ID)—on students’ ability to identify forces, and to construct the correct FBDs.We present an empirical study conducted in 11 Finnish high schools on students (n ¼ 335, aged 16) taking their first, mandatory, introductory physics course. The study design involved groups of students having heavy, light, or no use of IDs. The heavy and light ID groups answered eight pairs of ID and FBD questions in various physical contexts and the no ID group answered two of the eight FBD questions. The results indicate that the heavy ID group outperformed both the light and the no ID groups in identifying forces and constructing the correct FBDs. The analysis of these data indicates that the use of IDs is especially beneficial in identifying forces when constructing FBDs. ...
PublisherAmerican Physical Society
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