Journal article

Symbols in physics: difficulties experienced by first-year undergraduate students

Meredith Begg, Robyn Pierce

Journal of college Science Teaching | National Science Teachers Association | Published : 2021


Symbols are a cornerstone of the written language of physics and mathematics but inconsistencies in their use pose a challenge to students. This article reports on interviews held with first-year undergraduate physics students, focused on their early experiences with symbols in university physics. Students reported being confused by the symbolic aspects of their studies in physics over and above the concepts being taught. Many students commented on experiencing difficulties, as the symbolic notation used in high school mathematics and physics differed to their tertiary experiences. Additionally, the extent of the multiple uses of a single symbol, and the multiple symbols used for a single co..

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