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Identification and Classification of Misconceptions in Solving a Variant for the Two-Body Problem

Mario Humberto Ramírez Díaz, José Gilberto Castrejón Mendoza


Aim (Background): Misconceptions are one of the main issues found in the instruction of physicists as students. Problem solving is a successful strategy to learning of science in general and physics in particular. In this report, we use a particular problem about earth movement in the hypothetical case of change of sun mass, to detect misconceptions that students hold in an advanced semester physics program.

Materials and Methods: The problem was proposed like a part of the regular class in a course of Classical Mechanics, where the strategies are totally traditional. One might think that at this semester, students would have become able to solve this type of problem. In this research, we propose a correct solution to the problem, classify students’ solutions based in the epistemological primitives and show the specific misconception in function to the correct solution and students’ type of proposal.

Results: The research group made the classify of student’s solution in function of the several epistemological primitives like Gravitation Law, Kepler’s Laws, Conservation of energy and use of polar coordinates.

Conclusion: Is possible conclude that the students misconception’s is associate to different epistemological primitives, but furthermore, this kind of misconception are result of the type of stages of knowledge building not productive because they are not able to use this epistemological primitives in a correct form. The case study was made in the Physics program of National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico with students of Theoretical Mechanics Course of the fifth semester. 

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