Dynamic conceptual blending analysis to model student reasoning processes while integrating mathematics and physics: A case study in the context of the heat equation

Sofie Van den Eynde*, Martin Goedhart, Johan Deprez, Mieke De Cock

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

In recent years, there has been an increased interest in conceptual blending in physics and mathematics education research as a theoretical framework to study student reasoning. In this paper, we adapt the conceptual blending framework to construct a blending diagram that not only captures the product but also the process of student reasoning when they interpret a mathematical description of a physical system. We describe how to construct a dynamic blending diagram (DBD) and illustrate this using two cases from an interview study. In the interview, we asked pairs of undergraduate physics and mathematics students about the physical meaning of boundary conditions for the heat equation. The selected examples show different aspects of the DBD as an analysis method. We show that by using a DBD, we can judge the degree to which students integrate their understandings of mathematics and physics. The DBD also enables the reader to follow the line of reasoning of the students. Moreover, a DBD can be used to diagnose difficulties in student reasoning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number010114
Number of pages18
JournalPhysical Review Physics Education Research
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27-Mar-2020

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