Revista mexicana de física E
versión impresa ISSN 1870-3542
ROJAS, S. On the need to enhance physical insight via mathematical reasoning. Rev. mex. fís. E [online]. 2008, vol.54, n.1, pp. 75-80. ISSN 1870-3542.
It is becoming common to hear teaching advice about spending more time on the "physics of the problem" so that students will get more physical insight and develop a stronger intuition that can be very helpful when thinking about physics problems. Based on this type of justification, mathematical skills such as the ability to compute moments of inertia, center of mass, or gravitational fields from mass distributions, and electrical fields from charge distributions are considered "distracting mathematics" and therefore receive less attention. Based on published cited research on the subject, we'll argue a) that this approach can have a negative influence on student reasoning when dealing with questions of rotational dynamics, a highly non-intuitive subject where even instructors may fail to provide correct answers, and b) that exposure of students to mathematical reasoning and to a wide range of computational techniques to obtain the moment of inertia of different mass distributions will make students more comfortable with the subject of rotational dynamics, thus improving their physical insight on the topic
Palabras llave : Physical intuition; physics learning; teaching of physics; mathematical reasoning; student performance.