Faculty Publications


Free-body diagrams: Necessary or sufficient?

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

David Rosengrant

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



The Rutgers PAER group is working to help students develop various scientific abilities. One of the abilities is to create, understand and learn to use for qualitative reasoning and problem solving different representations of physical processes such as pictorial representations, motion diagrams, free-body diagrams, and energy bar charts. Physics education literature indicates that using multiple representations is beneficial for student understanding of physics ideas and for problem solving. We developed a special approach to construct and utilize free-body diagrams for representing physical phenomena and for problem solving. We will examine whether students draw free-body diagrams in solving problems when they know they will not receive credit for it; the consistency of their use in different conceptual areas; and if students who use free-body diagrams while solving problems in different areas of physics are more successful then those who do not.


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American Institute of Physics