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Abstract Title: Students’ Difficulties with Unit Vectors and Scalar Multiplication of a Vector
Abstract: In this article we report an investigation on students understanding of: 1) unit vectors and, 2) scalar multiplication of a vector. We administered two different tests to a total of 850 students after taking their first introductory physics course on mechanics in a large private Mexican university. The first test about unit vectors was taken by 270 students and the second test about scalar multiplication of a vector by 580 students. In the first part of this article, we analyze students' difficulties sketching the unit vector in the direction of a vector in the Cartesian coordinate plane. In the second part, we analyze students' responses in two types of problems: positive and negative scalar multiplication of a vector. In both parts of this article we describe frequent errors that have not been reported in the literature.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Genaro Zavala
Tecnologico de Monterrey
E. Garza Sada 2501
Monterrey, Non U.S. 64849
Phone: 528183582000, ext. 4631
and Co-Presenter(s)
Pablo Barniol
Tecnologico de Monterrey