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Abstract Title: Middle division students’ reasoning while “coordinatizing” coordinate independent integral equations.
Abstract: One of the most challenging aspect of making the transition from introductory to upper-division physics courses is the process of "coordinatizing" coordinate independent physical laws for solving problems. The most general form of a physical law is independent of a specific coordinate system. In order to apply these laws to a particular physical situation, these equations must be specified in a coordinate system that is appropriate to the situation. We posed two problems to middle division physics students in individual problem solving interviews that required the students to turn a coordinate independent integral expression into a coordinate dependent equation that can be integrated. We examine the students' reasoning while they identified a coordinate system and used this coordinate system to specify geometric relationships, determine limits of integration, and express the direction of vector quantities.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Gregory Mulder
Oregon State University
Dept. of Physics
301 Weniger Hall
Corvallis, OR 97331
Phone: 541-908-4025