Substandard Performance in Mathematical Problem Solving in Physics Among Higher Secondary School Students in Kerala - An Investigation on Teacher Perceptions and Student Difficulties
Physics and Mathematics are two deeply interlinked domains of Science. Mathematics is considered as the language in which the Physics theories are built by employing mathematical symbols and operations to make equations and representations in the world of Physics completely meaningful. In spite of being the backbone of Physics, the use of Mathematics principles and operations in Physics is the root cause of most of the issues and hassles aroused among students who learn Physics. This is an investigation on the substandard performance in mathematical problem solving in Physics among higher secondary school students by looking into the responses of teachers and students. The responses obtained from 21 higher secondary Physics teachers through questionnaire were studied using percentage analysis and the four major categories of ‘Difficulties in Mathematical Problem Solving in Physics’ faced by students viz., ‘Creating or Identifying the Formula’, ‘Extracting Information from Diagrams’, ‘Using Physics Concepts to Create Schematic Diagrams’ and ‘Application of Mathematics’ to solve Physics problems. were identified, The investigators used ‘Test on Mathematical Problem Solving in Physics’ with 40 multiple choice questions on select basic topics from ‘Motion’, which was informed by the Physics teachers to be one of the strenuous concepts for students while solving problems. The extent of each category of difficulty in the respective topics based on the students’ responses in the test was studied to rank them. This study also highlights some suggestions for improving the teaching and learning of mathematical problems in Physics at higher secondary level.
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