intro - Conceptual Understanding Its not just for breakfast...

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Conceptual Understanding: It’s not just for breakfast anymore. Jeff Adams & Greg Francis Conceptual Astronomy and Physics Education Research (CAPER) Group Montana State University Bozeman, MT

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Multi-level marketing: Conceptual Physics 103 Trig-based Physics 205 - 206 Calc-based Physics 211 - 212 Physics for Poets Pre-meds Teachers Physics Majors Engineers

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A B C A D C Conditions: hand pushes the same, frictionless table Compare: the force that C exerts on B to the force that C exerts on D.
A B C A D C Step 1: Net force on both systems the same, therefore second system has greater acceleration. Step 2: Net force on C is greater in second scenario. Hence, D pushes on C harder than B pushes on C. Step 3: By Newton’s 3rd law, the force of C on D is greater than the force of C on B.

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Why don’t they get it ?
The Problem: “Wow, it’s amazing how you can do well in physics and not know what you are doing.” Traditional instruction allows students to play  passive role Equations are introduced early in the typical  presentation Students tend to avoid analyzing situations  qualitatively once equations are introduced

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Pretest: rank the bulbs A B C D E Post-instruction results: Correct: 10%  Algebra-based 15%  Calculus-based Correct answer:  A=D=E>B=C
Specific difficulties identified: belief that current is used up confusion between voltage and current belief that battery is constant current source belief that order of elements in circuit matters etc

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Understanding or Memorization: Are we teaching the right thing? Eric Mazur Harvard University
traditional question: Calculate: (a) the current in the  2  resistor, and (b) the potential difference  between points a and b.

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conceptual question: When S is closed, what  happens to the: (a) intensities of A and B?  (b) intensity of C? (c) current through battery? (d) voltage drop across       A, B, and C? (e) total power dissipated?
results for Harvard class: average: 7.8/10 average: 2.4/10

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conceptual question: When S is closed, what  happens to the: (a) intensities of A and B?  (b) intensity of C?
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