In my teaching physics class, students are expected to complete some content standards, which they have to either write up ahead of time and explain to me in person or prepare for writing in real-time on a board while they explain.
Some common places that students are struggling in the kinematics standards include:
- Justifying when, why, and how Vavg = (vi + vf) / 2 *
- Using graphs analytically in order to do something, not just to merely describe what is already known **
- Reasoning about the value and direction of acceleration in non-standard cases (e.g., not freefall, circular motion, etc) ***
- Providing mathematical or physical argument to justify one’s statement, not merely substituting equations ****
* I’m thinking of re-naming the course, “Where do all these 1/2’s come from anyway?”
** Next semester, I’m going to model more of this explicitly and have them practice
*** In this problem, they have draw x vs.t, v vs t, and a vs t, for a bouncy ball. Then, in the next set of standards they have to take data to figure out a rule that describes how much energy is lost in each bounce, and then go back and adjust their drawings accordingly.
**** Lots of physics majors get by with strong algebra skills