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As part of ongoing research into cognitive processes and student thought, we have investigated the interplay between mathematics and physics resources in intermediate mechanics students. We present evidence from a reformed sophomore-level mechanics class which contains both tutorial and lecture components. In the context of writing Newton's Second Law for damped harmonic motion, students discuss the signs of the spring and damping forces. Using a grounded theory approach, we identify a common chain of reasoning in which a request for reasoning is followed by elaborative sense-making and checks for consistency, finishing with an optional appeal for group consensus. Our analysis provides evidence for a description of student thinking in terms of Plasticity, an extension of Resource Theory.
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