Student Difficulties with Trigonometric Vector Components Persist in Multiple Student Populations Documents
Brendon D. Mikula and
Andrew F. Heckler
Students in introductory physics courses sometimes struggle to correctly break down a single vector into its components when provided only with an arrow, a magnitude, a reference angle, and a coordinate system. Students struggle further when asked to break down a vector in an inclined coordinate system, such as the weight vector of a box on an inclined plane. Varying the placement of the angle consistently affects student error and response patterns across four physics student populations: algebra-based mechanics, algebra-based E&M, calculus-based mechanics, and calculus-based E&M. This suggests that student difficulties with trigonometric vector components are persistent and pervasive, even across different introductory physics courses, and are far below the requisite near-perfect accuracy needed for such fundamental skills. Student error and response patterns are discussed for both problem types.
- Download PERC13_Mikula.pdf - 427kb Adobe PDF Document
Published February 1, 2014
Last Modified January 31, 2014
This file is included in the full-text index.