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Towards a Full Integration of Physics and Math Concepts: The Path Full of Traps

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics and Physics

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Paper Authors


Angeles Dominguez Tecnologico de Monterrey (ITESM) and Universidad Andres Bello (UNAB) Orcid 16x16

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Angeles Dominguez is a Professor of the Department of Mathematics within the School of Engineering, a researcher at the School of Education, and Associate Dean of Faculty Development at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at the Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico. Also, she is currently collaborating with the School of Engineering at the University Andres Bello at Santiago, Chile. Angeles holds a bachelor degree in Physics Engineering from Tecnologico de Monterrey and a doctoral degree in Mathematics Education from Syracuse University, NY. Dr. Dominguez is a member of the Researchers’ National System in Mexico (SNI-1) and has been a visiting researcher at Syracuse University, at UT-Austin and at Universidad Andres Bello. She teaches undergraduate courses in Mathematics, graduate courses in Education, and is a thesis advisor on the master and doctoral programs on education at the Tecnologico de Monterrey. Her main research areas are: models and modeling, use of technology to improve teaching and learning, gender issues in STEM education.

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Itzel Hernandez-Armenta Tecnologico de Monterrey Orcid 16x16

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Itzel Hernandez-Armenta received a bachelor's degree in physics from the Universidad de las Américas Puebla and is currently a second-semester PhD student at the Educational Innovation program in Tecnologico de Monterrey. She has experience as a public communicator of science and astronomy for children, youth and teachers at the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (INAOE) and since 2017 she is the coordinator of the Astronomical Society of Tecnológico de Monterrey, Monterrey campus. She is a collaborator of the Group of Research and Innovation of Physics Education and part of the Research Group in Educational Innovation. Her research interest topics involve university education in STEAM areas, multidisciplinary integrations of knowledge and gender studies in science education.

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Jorge Eugenio de la Garza Becerra Tecnologico de Monterrey (ITESM)

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Jorge de la Garza is a Lecturer of the Physics Department within the School of Engineering at the Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico. He holds a bachelor degree in Physics Engineering and a doctoral degree in Education both from Tecnologico de Monterrey. Dr. de la Garza has been recognized by the government as a member of the Researchers’ National System in Mexico (SNI). He also actively participates in the different initiatives of the University mainly those related to interdisciplinary approach of teaching and learning, looking to close the gap between how knowledge is created and how students learn. His main research areas are a) models and modeling, b) learning environments and c) problem solving.

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Both mathematics and physics concepts have been closely interrelated since their formal beginnings in ancient times. Moreover, from a historical perspective, it is possible to identify how physics advanced as more complex mathematical ideas were available. In fact, it is hard to separate them either in or outside a classroom. However, in the classroom there are many instances that the teaching of one subject obstructs or creates barriers for the other. After five years of teaching a physics and math integrated course for freshman undergraduate students, a series of inconsistencies have been identified between both subjects. These inconsistencies can be perceived as traps that create conflicts between the concepts, interfering with students’ learning. The instructors teaching the integrated course are aware of those problems and they are authentically concerned about what to do to create awareness for these conflicts that make learning and understanding harder for students. Moreover, they have some suggestions as to what to do or how to address those inconsistencies, so the teaching and learning of both disciplines (physics and mathematics) is improved. In this study, the authors present some of these inconsistencies that arose while working in an integrated physics and mathematics course for first year undergraduate students (mostly kinematics and differential calculus). Some of the inconsistencies come from language, other from the framework of reference, and some others from the applications. As concluding remarks, the authors aim to provide some ways to alleviate that tension. The main objective is to have series of works focusing in the inconsistencies while searching for suggestions to mediate them and improve conceptual relationships that promote a better understanding for students.

Dominguez, A., & Hernandez-Armenta, I., & de la Garza Becerra, J. E. (2018, June), Towards a Full Integration of Physics and Math Concepts: The Path Full of Traps Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31150

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