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How Students Use Physics to Reason About Calculus Tasks
School Science and Mathematics (2004)
  • Karen A. Marrongelle, Portland State University
The present research study investigates how undergraduate students in an integrated calculus and physics class use physics to help them solve calculus problems. Using Zandieh's (2000) framework for analyzing student understanding of derivative as a starting point, this study adds detail to her “paradigmatic physical” context and begins to address the need for a theoretical basis for investigating learning and teaching in integrated mathematics and science classrooms. A case study design was used to investigate the different ways students use physics ideas as they worked through calculus tasks. Data were gathered through four individual interviews with each of 8 ICP students, classroom participant-observation, and triangulation of the data through student homework and exams. The main result of this study is the Physics Use Classification Scheme, a tool consisting of four categories used to characterize students' uses of physics on tasks involving average rate of change, derivative, and integral concepts. Two of the categories from the Physics Use Classification Scheme are elucidated with contrasting student cases in this paper.
  • Physics -- Study and teaching,
  • Mathematics -- Study and teaching,
  • Educational research,
  • Calculus -- Study and teaching -- Case studies
Publication Date
October, 2004
Publisher Statement
Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Inc., for School Science and Mathematics Association
Citation Information
Marrongelle, K. (2004). Context, examples, and language: Students uses of physics to reason about calculus. School Science and Mathematics, 104(6), 258-272.