Black and Wittmann on Resource Creation in Mechanics

Katrina E. Black and Michael C. Wittmann
Procedural Resource Creation in Intermediate Mechanics
AIP Conf. Proc. -- November 5, 2009 -- Volume 1179, pp. 97-101

A problem in resource theory is describing the creation of new, high-level resources. We model resource creation by analyzing four student groups separating variables in a group quiz setting. The task was to solve an air resistance problem with uncommon initial conditions. We assess the fluency of each group and two observables: use of overt (such as divide, subtract, equals) and covert (such as moving, bringing, or pulling over) mathematical and use of accompanying gestures (such as circling, grabbing, or sliding). For each group, the type of language and gesture used corresponds to how easily they carry out separation of variables. We create resource graphs for each group to organize our observations and use these graphs to model the creation of the procedural resource Separate Variables.