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PERC 2011 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Graphical Representations of Vector Functions in Upper-division E&M
Abstract: In upper division electricity and magnetism, the manipulation and interpretation of vector functions is pervasive and a significant challenge to students. At CSU San Marcos, using in-class activities adapted from the Oregon State University Paradigms in Physics Curriculum, students' difficulties with vector functions become evident in two types of in-class activities: sketching vector functions and relating vector and scalar functions (e.g., electric field and electric potential). For many students, the cause of these difficulties is a failure to fully distinguish between the components of a vector function and its coordinate variables. To address this difficulty, we implement an additional in-class activity requiring students to translate between graphical and algebraic representations of vector functions. We present our experience with these issues, how to address them, and how in-class activities can provide evidence of student thinking that facilitates curricular refinement.
Abstract Type: Gallery Session Poster
Poster Gallery Session: Representation Issues: Using Mathematics in Upper-Division Physics

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Edward Price
Cal. State Univ. San Marcos
and Co-Presenter(s)
Elizabeth Gire, University of Memphis