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written by Chandralekha Singh and the University of Pittsburgh Physics Education Research Group
This set of research-based student tutorials cover the topics of Coulomb's Law, the superposition principle, and symmetry in electrostatics. The materials are appropriate for a calculus-based introductory physics course.
Tutorial I: Coulomb's Law, Superposition Principle, and Symmetry
Tutorial II: Superposition Principle and Symmetry
Tutorial III: Distinguishing between the electric field & electric flux
Tutorial IV: Exploiting Gauss's Law to Find the Magnitude of the Electric Field
Tutorial V: Revisiting the Superposition Principle after Gauss' Law
Tutorial VI: Exploring symmetry to calculate the electric field using Gauss's Law*
The tutorials may be used as in-class supplements, out-of-class homework, or student self-study tools. The authors recommend the tutorials be given in-class to students working in groups of 2-3.
Optional pre- and post-tests are available. Professors may give a pre-test in-class after traditional instruction, a tutorial as homework, and the post-test the following class.
The tutorials are based on research into students' common difficulties in learning electrostatics. Some of these findings are available in Student Understanding of Symmetry and Gauss's Law of Electricity, Am. J. Phys. 74 (10), 923-936 (2006). Details of tutorial design and testing are available in J. Li's Ph.D. Dissertation, Improving Students' Understanding of Electricity and Magnetism.
* Please note that although a sixth tutorial is available, the research into its effectiveness is currently incomplete.
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University of Pittsburgh E&M Tutorial Series:
References Key Document E&M Tutorial I: Coulomb’s Law, Superposition Principle, and Symmetry
References Key Document E&M Tutorial II: Superposition Principle and Symmetry
References Key Document E&M Tutorial III: Distinguishing between the electric field & electric flux
References Key Document E&M Tutorial IV: Exploiting Gauss's Law to Find the Magnitude of the Electric Field
References Key Document E&M Tutorial V: Revisiting the Superposition Principle after Gauss' Law
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References Key Document