Interpreting Velocity Time Graphs in Calculus

Submitted by Becky Baranowski on

In Fall 2013, I taught two calculus courses.  One of them is linked with Physics (a learning community) and another one is in the traditional format.  In the traditional format, calculus is a prerequisite for PHY121.  With the learning community, students are able to take both MAT220 and PHY121 in the same semester.  The learning community students have the advantage of seeing the applications of calculus in the same semester while the traditional students will see the applications a semester later.      

In both calculus coures, students interpret graphs.  Yet, the learning community students must interpret it physics as well.  Thus, on my 5th exam, both classes were given the same velocity time graph.  They had to determine the interval for which the person was walking in the positive direction and which direction the person was walking in the negative direction.  They also had to find the acceleration at a specific value.  

Attached you will find the exam problem and the results.  

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velocity-time-graph-results.docx 116.29 KB
Average: 4 (2 votes)


Peter Turner Tue, 12/03/2013 - 3:58pm

Very interesting results, and certainly validating the efficacy of your Learning Community! Are there any other areas for comparison that are being addressed in both MAT and PHY? And, what's the next step? Do you offer more LCs? Good stuff.

Becky Baranowski Wed, 12/04/2013 - 3:38pm

We have been offering this learning community for 2 years now, but this is my first semester teaching it. I will be teaching this learning community again this spring with Dwain.  This first time around has been a huge learning curve for me, so I hope to look at the student learning in much more detail.  This one item of interpretting has been a huge improvement from my traditional classes.  

Erik Huntsinger Wed, 01/08/2014 - 2:36pm

Becky, I haven't seen such strong quantitative data for the power of learning communities (not that it doesn't exist, I just haven't seen it).  This and similar assessments can really argue for the continuation of the LCs and for expanding them.  It seems you have yourself another CATS already in the works- what the impact will be of adding more physics concepts to your traditional course!  You're on a roll...