Teachers’ beliefs about improving transfer of algebraic skills from mathematics into physics in senior pre-university education

Süleyman Turşucu*, Jeroen Spandaw, Steven Flipse, Marc J. de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
54 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Students in senior pre-university education encounter difficulties in the application of mathematics into physics. This paper presents the outcome of an explorative qualitative study of teachers’ beliefs about improving the transfer of algebraic skills from mathematics into physics. We interviewed 10 mathematics and 10 physics teachers using a semi-structured questionnaire that was based on an algebraic transfer problem. Almost all teachers acknowledged this transfer problem and considered it to be important. We found a continuum of teachers’ beliefs about aspects influencing transfer, including beliefs on improving this transfer. Together with identified improvement aspects about coherent mathematics education, these may help reduce physics teachers’ frustrations who spend extra time on re-teaching mathematics. Teachers think that transfer does not happen, because students see both subjects as separate disciplines. Contrary to most physics teachers, most mathematics teachers do not feel the need to collaborate with physics teachers. We found two extreme, opposite beliefs about the transfer of algebraic skills into physics. An intermediate group believes that only an integrated approach can solve the transfer problem. Some of the teachers’ beliefs could be organised into a beliefs system. Further research could investigate to which extent such beliefs systems exist and which beliefs these contain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-604
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Volume39
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Teacher beliefs
  • qualitative research
  • interview

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