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Science & Education

, Volume 24, Issue 5–6, pp 661–698 | Cite as

Quod erat demonstrandum: Understanding and Explaining Equations in Physics Teacher Education

  • Ricardo KaramEmail author
  • Olaf Krey
Article

Abstract

In physics education, equations are commonly seen as calculation tools to solve problems or as concise descriptions of experimental regularities. In physical science, however, equations often play a much more important role associated with the formulation of theories to provide explanations for physical phenomena. In order to overcome this inconsistency, one crucial step is to improve physics teacher education. In this work, we describe the structure of a course that was given to physics teacher students at the end of their master’s degree in two European universities. The course had two main goals: (1) To investigate the complex interplay between physics and mathematics from a historical and philosophical perspective and (2) To expand students’ repertoire of explanations regarding possible ways to derive certain school-relevant equations. A qualitative analysis on a case study basis was conducted to investigate the learning outcomes of the course. Here, we focus on the comparative analysis of two students who had considerably different views of the math-physics interplay in the beginning of the course. Our general results point to important changes on some of the students’ views on the role of mathematics in physics, an increase in the participants’ awareness of the difficulties faced by learners to understand physics equations and a broadening in the students’ repertoire to answer “Why?” questions formulated to equations. Based on this analysis, further implications for physics teacher education are derived.

Keywords

Teacher Student Pedagogical Content Knowledge Incline Plane Circular Motion Epistemological Belief 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank all the students that attended the course for their engagement and the reviewers for their valuable suggestions. Many thanks also to Gesche Pospiech (Dresden), Ismo Koponen (Helsinki) and Dietmar Höttecke (Hamburg) for the opportunity of giving the course in their universities. This work was supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Postdoctoral Fellowship to RK—BRA 1146348 STP).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Science EducationUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Institut für Physik - Didaktik der PhysikMartin-Luther-Universität Halle-WittenbergHalleGermany

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