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Abstract Title: Know-Why in Using Right-Hand Rules to Determine Directions in Electromagnetism in College Physics
Abstract: Vectors and cross products play a fundamental role in determining the directions of electromagnetism in introductory physics courses. General physics textbooks normally present physical mnemonic techniques to teach students how to determine the directions of the unknown vectors involved in cross products. But rarely do algebra-based introductory physics textbooks introduce why we use right-hand rules.  Likewise, physics instructors normally do not teach the concept of cross products in electromagnetism; they introduce the algebraic forms of the vector cross products and then directly introduce the right-hand rules as a tool to determine the direction of vector cross products. Because knowledge includes both the "know-how" and "know-why", this paper argues that we need to teach students not only how to use the hand rules, but also why we use these hand rules by conceptually introducing the mathematical model of cross products and directional relationship among vectors to improve students' knowledge transfer skills.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session II
Poster Number: B100

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Liang Zeng
The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley
1201 W. University Drive
Edinburg, TX 78539
Phone: 9566652169
Fax: 9566652423
and Co-Presenter(s)
Yi Zeng, Guang Zeng