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The effect of students' physics background on their understanding of linear algebra

By Richard Masters

Abstract

Concepts of vectors, linear combinations and spanning, transformations and linear transformations in the teaching of Linear Algebra, a geometric approach was taken. Activities in the aforementioned areas were designed in a dynamic computer environment Cabri Geometry II that allowed students to interact with vectors in a two-dimensional coordinate free vector space. Some of these activities embodied the notion of vectors in physical situations such as systems of pulleys and weights being suspended from a string. Unfortunately these representations proved problematic for a group of students having a working knowledge of elementary physics. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to understand the ways that experience with physics knowledge interferes with the acquisition of knowledge in Linear Algebra. It considered two groups of students, those with physics experience and those without such experience. The topics that gave difficulty to both groups of students were attributed to the complex nature of Linear Algebra and those that were different were considered to be specific to a background in physics

Year: 2000
OAI identifier: oai:https://spectrum.library.concordia.ca:1160

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