The Relationships Between Logical Thinking, Gender, and Kinematics Graph Interpretation Skills

Behzat BEKTASLI, Arthur L. WHITE
Hacettepe University, Faculty of Education, Department of Science Education, Ankara, Turkey.
School of Teaching and Learning, Department of Science Education, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, U.S.


Problem Statement: Kinematics is one of the topics in physics where graphs are used broadly. Kinematics includes many abstract formulas, and students usually try to solve problems with those formulas. However, using a kinematics graph instead of formulas might be a better option for problem solving in kinematics. Graphs are abstract representations, so a student’s level of logical thinking might be an indicator for understanding a kinematics graph. This paper examines a possible connection between students’ kinematics graph interpretation skills and logical thinking.

Purpose of the Study: The main purpose of this study is to search for relationships between student logical thinking, gender and kinematics graph interpretation skills.

Methods: The sample of this study is 72 grade-12 students. The Middle Grades Integrated Process Skill Test (MIPT) and Test of Understanding Graphs-Kinematics (TUG-K) were administered to collect data after the kinematics graph instruction. The study uses correlational research design. Data analysis includes factor analysis, reliability, descriptive statistics, correlation, and forward multiple-linear regression.

Findings and Results: Based on the data analysis, the following principal components were identified for MIPT: processing text information (MIPT: text) and processing symbolic representation (MIPT: symbolic). Similarly, two principle components were found for TUG-K: calculation and the interpretation of slope (TUG-K: slope) and area (TUG-K: area). A student’s ability to determine the slope in a kinematics graph was significantly correlated with logical thinking and gender. However, there was no significant correlation to student ability to determine the area in a kinematics graph.

Conclusions and Recommendations: Students come to a classroom with different levels of logical thinking skills. It might be easier for some students to process text information rather than processing symbolic information. On the other hand, it might be easier for some students to process symbolic information instead of processing text information. For both types of students, this study recommends that students’ logical thinking and gender need to be considered when kinematics graphs are taught.

Keywords: Kinematics, graphs, logical thinking, physics education