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Mathematical Reasoning in Physics Tests – Requirements, Relations, Dependence

Helena Johansson (Institutionen för matematiska vetenskaper)
Göteborg : University of Gothenburg, 2013.

By analysing and expanding upon mathematical reasoning requirements in physics tests, this licentiate thesis aims to contribute to the research studying how students’ knowledge in mathematics influence their learning of physics. A sample of physics tests from the Swedish National Test Bank in Physics was used as data, together with information of upper secondary students’ scores and grades on the tests. First it was decided whether the tasks in the tests required mathematical reasoning at all and if they did, that reasoning was characterised. Further, the relation between students’ grades and mathematical reasoning requirements was examined. Another aim in this thesis is to try out if the Mantel-Haenszel procedure is an appropriate statistical method to answer questions about if there is a dependence between students’ success on different physics tasks requiring different kinds of mathematical reasoning. The results show that 75% of the tasks in the physics tests require mathematical reasoning and that it is impossible to pass six out of eight tests without mathematical reasoning. It is also revealed that it is uncommon that a student gets a higher grade than Pass without solving tasks that require the student to come up with not already familiar solutions. It is concluded that the Mantel-Haenszel procedure is sensitive to the number of students each teacher accounts for. If there are not too few students, the procedure can be used. The outcome indicates that there is a dependence between success on tasks requiring different kinds of reasoning. It is more likely that a student manages to solve a task that requires the produce of new reasoning if the student has solved a task that is familiar from before.

Nyckelord: Mathematical reasoning, imitative reasoning, creative mathematical reasoning, physics tests, physics tasks, upper secondary school, Mantel-Haenszel procedure

Denna post skapades 2015-12-03.
CPL Pubid: 227006


Institutioner (Chalmers)

Institutionen för matematiska vetenskaperInstitutionen för matematiska vetenskaper (GU)


Subject didactics

Chalmers infrastruktur


Datum: 2013-11-20
Opponent: fil. Dr. Kerstin Pettersson, Högskolan i Skövde

Ingår i serie

Preprint / Department of Mathematical Sciences, Chalmers University of Technology and Göteborg University 2013:18