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Towards a Full Integration of Physics and Math Concepts: Words versus Meanings

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics and Physics

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Paper Authors


Itzel H. Armenta Tecnologico de Monterrey Orcid 16x16

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Itzel H. Armenta is a PhD student at Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico, under the Innovation in Education program, which she joined in August 2017. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physics (2016) and has developed as a public science communicator since 2011. She has special interest for STEM+ education, inter-multi-trans-disciplinarity phenomena in educational contexts, citizen science and educational research methods.

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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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Angeles Dominguez Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico and Universidad Andres Bello, Santiago, Chile 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: faculty development, teaching methods, and gender issues in STEM education.

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Both Mathematics and Physics concepts have been closely interrelated since their formal beginnings in ancient times. Moreover, from a wide variety of perspectives, it is possible to identify how physics understanding progressed as more complex mathematical ideas were available. In pedagogical practice there are many instances between these disciplines where the teaching of one might obstruct the understanding of the other, which, combined with the difficulty of detaching them either in or outside a classroom, yields a rich playground for educative improvement. After a significant experience of teaching an integrated physics-math course for freshman undergraduate students, a series of inconsistencies have been identified and previously reported. One of those inconsistencies, aim of this study, is perceived as a trap rooted in language, which creates worrying cognitive conflicts thus interfering with students’ learning. By using different names for the same concepts or ideas, perhaps looking to relate specific concepts to everyday language, teachers might be helping misconceptions prevail. In this work, authors focus on the analysis terms like mass and force. To do so, various sources are analyzed to identify the use and root of different names for similar concepts, and the further consequences in the construction of more complex thinking. Raising awareness of these conflicts is the ultimate objective, addressed by an authentically concern to act on making learning and understanding accessible for students. Therefore, authors call for a teaching and learning transformation of both Physics and Mathematics by reflecting on a better comprehensive use of language that better describes what is being taught and negotiates meaning between disciplinary bounds.

H. Armenta, I., & de la Garza Becerra, J. E., & Dominguez, A. (2019, June), Towards a Full Integration of Physics and Math Concepts: Words versus Meanings Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33451

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