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Abstract Title: Exploring Student Difficulties With Observation Location
Abstract: Throughout introductory physics, students create and interpret free body diagrams in which multiple forces act on an object, typically at a single location (the object's center of mass).  The situation increases in difficulty when multiple objects are involved, and further when electric and magnetic fields are present. In the latter, sources of the fields are often identified as a set of electric charges or current-carrying wires, and students are asked to determine the electric or magnetic field at a separate location defined as the observation location. Previous research suggests students struggle with accounting for how a measurement or calculation depends on the observation location. We present preliminary results exploring the extent to which students struggle with observation location by analyzing student written work of problems involving vector addition of fields. This analysis is further supported by relevant episodes of classroom video from a studio-style, algebra-based, introductory electricity and magnetism course.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Jaime Bryant
DePaul University
2219 N Kenmore Ave
Chicago, IL 60605
Phone: 7735348600
and Co-Presenter(s)
Rita Dawod, Susan Fischer, Mary Bridget Kustusch