Go back
Abstract: 
It is agreed that algebra has an important role in physics, particularly through handling symbols. A lot of previous research has focused on how mathematics is used in physics from perspectives where mathematics is taken for granted, and not addressing potential differences of mathematics in the physics classroom and in the mathematics classroom. Studies addressing differences between both subjects have been based on researchers’ own experiences of mathematics in both subjects. Thus, more focused empirical research is needed. The purpose of this study is to clarify similarities and differences between mathematics and physics concerning the use of algebraic symbols. Analyses were based on comparisons between upper secondary textbooks in mathematics and in physics from a discourse perspective. Statistical methods were used to decide if there were any significant differences between the subjects. Results showed an overlap in the algebra discourse in both subjects, but also several differences concerning core aspects of algebra. For example, a higher number of different algebraic symbols in equations in physics than in mathematics, and algebraic symbols are more seldom referred to by words in mathematics than in physics. This can make it difficult for students to identify similarities in the algebraic discourses in both subjects.



Magnus Österholm
Main page
Publications
CV
Research
Umeå University
Umeå School of Education
Faculty of Science and Technology
Department of Science and Mathematics Education
Umeå Mathematics Education Research Centre
Mid Sweden University
Faculty of Science, Technology and Media
Department of Engineering, Mathematics and Science Education
Monash University
Faculty of Education
Linköping University
The Institute of Technology
Department of Mathematics
