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Abstract Title: Investigating introductory student difficulties reading electric field diagrams
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Abstract: This study investigated student difficulties reading electric field diagrams and the effect a visual change to these diagrams had on students' ability to interpret these diagrams. Electric field diagrams are often drawn with a uniform line thickness and color. We modified the electric field diagrams to use variations in line thickness, line continuity, and arrow shape to indicate the strength and direction of the electric field. These changes, which are consistent with theories of visual attention and grounded cognition, exploit students' innate ability to perceive line variations and arrow styles to communicate the electric field strength and direction. Students were randomly assigned to compare electric field strength and direction for points on traditional or modified diagrams. Results show correctness gains of 12.3% for magnitude and gains of 7% for direction using the modified diagrams. Overall correctness gains of 10% were observed for the modified over the traditional diagrams.
Session Time: Poster Session 3
Poster Number: III-16

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Raymond Zich
Department of Physics, Illinois State University
Normal, IL 61790
Phone: 309-438-7009
and Co-Presenter(s)
Naomi Satoh, Department of Physics, Illinois State University