Research Papers in Physics and Astronomy


Date of this Version

January 1981


Published in Journal of Research in Science Teaching 18:4 (1981), pp. 335–340. Copyright © 1981 by the National Association for Research in Science Teaching; published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Used by permission.


Problems which could be solved using proportional reasoning were administered nationwide by college faculty to their own science classes during a three year period. The reasoning of more than 8000 students covering three sections of the country was classified as concrete, transitional, or formal using Piagetian categories. Data from the West closely replicated that from the Midwest on similar metric conversion tasks. Student performance changed noticeably with a different problem format. The percentages of students using a ratio formula, ratio attempt, or intuitive methods of solution held approximately constant over time, task, and section of the country. The data shows the use of additive and conversion methods of solution depends upon the problem presentation.

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