Wittmann and Chase on embodied cognition in wave propagation

Evidence of embodied cognition about wave propagation
Michael C. Wittmann and Evan Chase
AIP Conf. Proc. 1413, 383 (2012)

That students think of wavepulses as if throwing balls down a long taut spring is well established. Typical questions involve students imagining the spring already pulled taut; a different scenario would imagine them pulling the spring tight first. This situation creates a different baseline of physical experience from which to reason. For example, it provides a physical experience in which tension is a relevant measure in the system. We investigated the effects of students pulling the spring (or not) in interviews after instruction. We also wrote two surveys, each giving a different physical description of a typical problem. From interviews, we find evidence that a different embodiment of the problem affects students' responses. In surveys, with students asked to imagine different situations, we found no such evidence.