Visual Representations of Situation in a Partially Defined Physics Problem: What Kinds of Drawings High-School and University Students Generate?

  • Josip Slisko Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla
  • Mirko Marušić University of Split


In this research, we gave to technical university students (N=50) and high school students (N=75) a verbally described situation of a partially defined physics problem. The task for the both groups of the students was to generate drawings of how they imagined the situation that the problem referred to. A fully abstract drawing was generated by 48% of university students and by 28% of high-school students. Some of the students who did not provide the abstract drawing did however provide drawings with one (42%) or two (10%) concretizations of the problem. High school students have generated 58% of drawings with one concretization and 11% with two, while 2% of the drawings contain three concretizations of the observed partially defined physics problem. Our results show that numerical exercises, formulated in standard way mostly used in the teaching process, cannot develop the ability of visual representation of physics problem in a satisfying way. It is suggested that students should face partially defined problems that might enable them to develop the ability of visual representation of physics problem by using drawings and improve general problem solving strategies. In that way, they could better deal with open-ended real life problems, actively using physics principles and assumptions.


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How to Cite
SLISKO, Josip; MARUŠIĆ, Mirko. Visual Representations of Situation in a Partially Defined Physics Problem: What Kinds of Drawings High-School and University Students Generate?. European Journal of Physics Education, [S.l.], v. 8, n. 2, mar. 2018. ISSN 1309-7202. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 24 apr. 2018.