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Abstract Title: Student Difficulties with non-Cartesian Unit Vectors in Upper Level E&M
Abstract: An upper level E&M course (i.e. based on Griffiths) involves the extensive integration of vector calculus concepts and notation with abstract physics concepts like field and potential.  We hope that students take what they have learned in their math classes and apply it to help represent and make sense of the physics.  To assess how well students are able to do this integration and application I have developed several simple concept tests on position and unit vectors in non-Cartesian coordinate systems as they are used in upper level E&M.  In this poster I describe these concept tests and present results that show students at different levels (pre-E&M course, post-E&M course, 1st year graduate students) and in different disciplines (physics, electrical engineering) have difficulty using non-Cartesian unit vectors appropriately.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster

Contributed Poster

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Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Brant Hinrichs
Drury University, Physics Department
729 N. Drury Lane
Springfield, MO 65802
Phone: (417) 873-6976