TitleParadigms in Physics: Representations of Partial Derivatives
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsGire, Elizabeth
EditorDray, Tevian, Corinne Manogue, David Roundy, and Emily van Zee
Conference Name2016 EnFUSE Symposium
Date Published04/2016
Conference LocationWashington, DC
KeywordsDerivatives, Multivariable Calculus, Partial Derivatives, Upper Division Physics

When making measurements, scientists attempt to change one variable while holding all other independent variables fixed, a process that is mathematically modeled as a partial derivative. This project aims to characterize experts’ and students’ disciplinary understandings of partial derivatives across STEM subjects. We have developed an expanded framework of the concept image of derivative to include “thick derivatives” and classroom activities to move students toward a more robust understanding of derivatives. We continue to test these materials and explore students’ initial and ongoing understandings of partial derivatives. This project will provide classroom-tested curricular materials and associated instructor resources to the education community that will support learning trajectories in multiple STEM disciplines.


Refereed DesignationDoes Not Apply