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PERC 2015 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: What integration cues, and what cues integration in intermediate electromagnetism
Abstract: The use of sophisticated math in physical models and problem solving has been identified as a major challenge for students in their intermediate and upper-division courses. Integration is a math tool widely used across physics contexts. It is perhaps the foremost mathematical technique in intermediate level electromagnetism courses. We present semi-quantitative research into students' difficulties with integration in such an electromagnetism course with cohorts of about 50 students. We have investigated what students' views on integration are, before they enter the electromagnetism course, and interpret the results in terms of their concept images of integration. We have found that students primarily see integration as a process of evaluation, and that the majority of students have no conceptual aspect in their concept image of integration. We confirm and quantify earlier results that recognizing dependency on a variable is a strong cue that prompts students to integrate. In addition, various technical difficulties with integration prevent almost all students from getting a completely correct answer to a typical electromagnetism problem involving integration.
Abstract Type: Symposium Talk
Parallel Session: Research on student conceptions of integration in math and physics

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Leanne Doughty
Michigan State University
and Co-Presenter(s)
Eilish McLoughlin, Dublin City University
Paul van Kampen, Dublin City University