home - login - register

PERC 2016 Abstract Detail Page

Previous Page  |  New Search  |  Browse All

Abstract Title: Student use of symbolic forms when constructing differential vector elements
Abstract: As part of an effort to examine students' understanding of the structure of non-Cartesian coordinate systems and the differential elements associated with these systems when using vector calculus in electricity and magnetism (E&M), students in junior E&M were interviewed in pairs. In one task, students constructed differential length and volume elements for an unconventional spherical coordinate system. Here we describe one aspect of this study, which involves identifying the symbolic forms (Sherin, 2001) students invoked when building or checking these vector expressions. For example, the parts-of-a-whole form was particularly useful to students, allowing them to carve out the specific component structure of the needed vector differential length. Students also used the dependence form to account for dimensionality during construction of each component. Further analysis addresses the role of these symbolic forms in student performance on the task.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Benjamin Schermerhorn
University of Maine
and Co-Presenter(s)
John Thompson