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Abstract Title: Student difficulties with trigonometric vector components persist in multiple populations
Abstract: 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.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Brendon D Mikula
The Ohio State University
1040 Physics Research Building
191 W Woodruff Ave
Columbus, OH 43210
and Co-Presenter(s)
Andrew F Heckler

Contributed Poster

Contributed Poster: Download the Contributed Poster