Nurturing sensemaking of, through, and with a mathematical model

Shulamit Kapon, Maayan Schvartzer

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Students of physics, even at the undergraduate level, often perceive common sense and the use of mathematical formalisms in problem solving as disconnected activities. We present an ethnographic account of a case study, a year-long research apprenticeship of an 11th grade physics student. The analysis examined the development of the student's understanding a mathematical equation as a model for a physical phenomenon, his use of that mathematization as a tool and as an object for sense making, and how these were nurtured by the mentor. Our analysis suggests that this process can be paralleled to the development of reading comprehension and that it involves the deciphering of the explicit and implicit meaning of the equation. We also show that using physics equations in this manner is not intuitive, and requires an epistemological change that needs to be necessitated for students.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysics Education Research Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2018
EventPhysics Education Research Conference, PERC 2018 - Washington, United States
Duration: 1 Aug 20162 Aug 2016


  • Epistemology
  • Inquiry
  • Learning
  • Mathematization
  • Sensemaking
  • Teaching

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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