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PERC 2015 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Student Difficulities with Boundary Conditions
Abstract: We report findings from an investigation of student difficulties using boundary conditions in electrodynamics, an important topic that advanced physics undergraduates are expected to understand and apply. Our data sources include traditional exam questions, conceptual survey questions, and think-aloud student interviews. The analysis was guided by an analytical framework that characterizes how students activate, construct, execute, and reflect on boundary conditions. Common student difficulties include: activating boundary conditions in appropriate contexts; constructing a complex expression for the E&M waves; mathematically simplifying complex exponentials and checking if the reflection and transmission coefficient are physical. Finally, we present tentative pedagogical implications based on our observations.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Qing Ryan
University of Colorado Boulder
and Co-Presenter(s)
Steven Pollock,Bethany Wilcox