Home
Research into learning
Outreach Programs
Classroom Materials
Opportunities

University of Maine
Physics Education Research Laboratory

Identifying Student Difficulties with the Propagation of Mechanical Waves

Michael C. Wittmann, Edward F. Redish, Richard N. Steinberg
Dept. of Physics, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-4111; 301-405-8090 (Wittmann), mwittman@delphi.umd.edu

To be presented 9 August 96 at the summer conference of the American Association of Physics Teachers, held August, 1996 in College Park, Maryland. Posted on the Web on 23 July 96.

Abstract (original version; talk has been modified since then):

The Physics Education Research Group at the University of Maryland has been conducting research into student understanding of mechaical waves in our introductory calculus-based physics courses using student interviews, examination questions, and a free response diagnostic test. We have observed a number of common student confusions in the area of waves on elastic strings. Based on our research, we have developed student-centered instructional tutorials using interactive video tools on the computer. We will demonstrate some of these materials and discuss their effectiveness.


The talk was originally designed to be presented using a browser (Netscape). Though it is all one document, the buttons can be used to present the talk in slide format. A screen size of 800x600 is reccommended. Comments should be referred to MCW (email and homepage listed below).

Proceed to talk.
















Identifying Student Difficulties with the Propagation of Mechanical Waves

Michael C. Wittmann, Edward F. Redish, Richard N. Steinberg
Physics Education Research Group
University of Maryland, College Park
Friday 9 August 96
1










Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Physics Education Research Group,
University of Maryland
left arrowRight arrow
2








Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Previous Research by Others 3














Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Motivation for Research 4









Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Population Studied 5











Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Research Methods 6














Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Underlying Concepts 7  

Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Underlying Concepts 7.1










Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Research Question 8

Question:

Correct Answer: 
  increase the tension in the string
     or
  exchange the string to get a lower mass density.











Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Pre-Instuction Interviews:
Particle Waves
9


 

Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Pre-Instruction Interviews:
Massive Waves 
10






 




Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Post-Instruction Interviews 11

Individual problem solving interviews with 9 students in the traditional discussion section were carried out. Student comments mirrored those from previous interviews.


Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Pre-Course Waves Test 12

 Asked in the first week of classes.

Student Responses Pre Instruction Post Instruction
Depends only on
medium (correct)

6 %
Depends on both medium
and hand motion

18 %
Depends only on
hand motion

54 %
Other

22 %
















Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Post-Course Waves Test 13

 Asked in the last week of classes.

Student Responses Pre Instruction Post Instruction
Depends only on
medium (correct)

6 %

24 %
Depends on both medium
and hand motion

18 %

72 %
Depends only on
hand motion

54 %

3 %
Other

22 %

1 %
















Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Summary of Results 14















Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Curriculum Development 15





















Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Iterative Wheel of Research 16












Physics Education Research Group, University of Maryland
Iterative Wheel of Research 17


Michael C. Wittmann
mwittman@delphi.umd.edu
Michael C. Wittmann homepage
University of Maryland at College Park
Physics Department, Room 0220, (301) 405-8090