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This report discusses university physics students' conceptualizations of the factors affecting the speed of sound propagation. The data source consists of a set of detailed explanations which Canadian and South African physics graduates provided during the course of clinical-like interviews dealing with their understanding of sound. The analysis of the students' explanations was set in the phenomenographic tradition: their categorization led to the characterization of three qualitatively different conceptualizations. The conceptualizations are illustrated with dialogue excerpts taken from the student interviews. Implications for physics teaching are discussed.
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