Licentiate thesis, 2013

By analysing and expanding upon mathematical reasoning requirements in physics tests, this
licentiate thesis aims to contribute to the research studying how students’ knowledge in mathematics
influence their learning of physics. A sample of physics tests from the Swedish National Test Bank in
Physics was used as data, together with information of upper secondary students’ scores and grades
on the tests. First it was decided whether the tasks in the tests required mathematical reasoning at all
and if they did, that reasoning was characterised. Further, the relation between students’ grades and
mathematical reasoning requirements was examined. Another aim in this thesis is to try out if the
Mantel-Haenszel procedure is an appropriate statistical method to answer questions about if there is
a dependence between students’ success on different physics tasks requiring different kinds of
mathematical reasoning. The results show that 75% of the tasks in the physics tests require
mathematical reasoning and that it is impossible to pass six out of eight tests without mathematical
reasoning. It is also revealed that it is uncommon that a student gets a higher grade than Pass
without solving tasks that require the student to come up with not already familiar solutions. It is
concluded that the Mantel-Haenszel procedure is sensitive to the number of students each teacher
accounts for. If there are not too few students, the procedure can be used. The outcome indicates that
there is a dependence between success on tasks requiring different kinds of reasoning. It is more likely
that a student manages to solve a task that requires the produce of new reasoning if the student has
solved a task that is familiar from before.

physics tasks

imitative reasoning

Mathematical reasoning

Mantel-Haenszel procedure.

upper secondary school

physics tests

creative mathematical reasoning

Euler

Opponent: Dr. Kerstin Pettersson, Vård och natur, Högskolan i Skövde

Chalmers, Mathematical Sciences

University of Gothenburg

Educational Sciences

Mathematics

Preprint / Department of Mathematical Sciences, Chalmers University of Technology and Göteborg University: 2013:18

Euler

Opponent: Dr. Kerstin Pettersson, Vård och natur, Högskolan i Skövde