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Students’ Understanding of Velocity-Time Graphs and the Sources of Conceptual Difficulties

Nataša Erceg ; Department of Physics, University of Rijeka
Ivica Aviani ; Institute of Physics in Zagreb and Faculty of Science, University of Split

Puni tekst: engleski pdf 601 Kb

str. 43-80

preuzimanja: 457


Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 601 Kb

str. 43-80

preuzimanja: 342



We investigated the students’ ability to translate the velocity-time graph into a real physical situation and the possible sources of conceptual difficulties. The study involved the sample of n=324 high-school/university students, and physics teachers in Croatia. The students were presented the original non-traditional open-ended graph problem. Their written answers were classified and used to form a closed-ended prediction questionnaire for teachers. Comparing the teachers’ expectations with the actual students’ responses, we found out that teachers significantly overestimate students’ understanding. Our results also show that the observed difficulties are common in all groups of participants and that they do not depend significantly on the educational level and curriculum. We also found that the physics textbooks are also potential sources of difficulties, giving unfinished or incomplete statements regarding the sign of physical quantities in kinematic expressions. We feel that non-traditional graph problems of this kind could help teachers in establishing an active learning process in the classroom to become aware of students’ way of thinking and to overcome the difficulties.

Ključne riječi

conceptual understanding, curriculum, graphical representation, physics textbooks, students’ problem solving

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