cicyt UNIZAR

Physics Education

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New submissions for Fri, 16 Mar 18

[1]  arXiv:1803.05519 [pdf]
Title: How Physics Textbooks Embed Meaning in the Equals Sign
Comments: Submitted to EJP
Subjects: Physics Education (physics.ed-ph)

Physics as a discipline embeds conceptual meaning about the physical world in mathematical formalism. How meaning is associated with symbols depends sensitively on context, and physicists can shift meaning through symbolic manipulation. We present an analysis of the different physical meanings associated with the equals sign "=" that can be inferred from introductory and upper-level physics textbooks. Five distinct meanings/categories are identified: causality, balancing, definitional, assignment, and calculation, each with operational articulations that can be used to help identify their presence. The different uses can be seen to mediate the symbolic forms of the larger equations, and significant differences in frequency with which these are used exist between textbooks of different levels.

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