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Student Reasoning about the Divergence of a Vector Field
written by Charles Baily and Cecilia Astolfi
Expanding our knowledge of student difficulties in advanced undergraduate electromagnetism is essential if we are to develop effective instructional interventions. Drawing on an analysis of course materials, in-class observations and responses to conceptual questions, we document specific resources employed by students when reasoning about the divergence of a vector field. One common student error, which persisted in our course despite explicit instruction, is to misinterpret any "spreading out" of field lines in a diagram as representing a place of non-zero divergence. Some of these student difficulties can likely be attributed to having first learned about the divergence in a mathematical context, where there was little emphasis on graphical representations of vector fields and connections to physical situations.
Physics Education Research Conference 2014
Part of the PER Conference series
Minneapolis, MN: July 30-31, 2014
Pages 31-34
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Foundations
- Alternative Conceptions
Mathematical Tools
- Vector Calculus
= Divergence
- Upper Undergraduate
- Reference Material
= Research study
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Researchers
- application/pdf
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Mirror:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/perc.20…
Access Rights:
Free access
License:
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the published article's author(s), title, proceedings citation, and DOI.
Rights Holder:
American Association of Physics Teachers
DOI:
10.1119/perc.2014.pr.004
PACSs:
01.40.Fk
01.50.Kw
Keywords:
PERC 2014, conceptual understanding, divergence, electromagnetism, mathematics, physics education research
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created April 24, 2015 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
June 1, 2015 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
April 28, 2015
Other Collections:

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AIP Format
C. Baily and C. Astolfi, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2014, Minneapolis, MN, 2014, WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13440&DocID=4039).
AJP/PRST-PER
C. Baily and C. Astolfi, Student Reasoning about the Divergence of a Vector Field, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2014, Minneapolis, MN, 2014, <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13440&DocID=4039>.
APA Format
Baily, C., & Astolfi, C. (2014, July 30-31). Student Reasoning about the Divergence of a Vector Field. Paper presented at Physics Education Research Conference 2014, Minneapolis, MN. Retrieved December 11, 2017, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13440&DocID=4039
Chicago Format
Baily, Charles, and Cecilia Astolfi. "Student Reasoning about the Divergence of a Vector Field." Paper presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2014, Minneapolis, MN, July 30-31, 2014. https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13440&DocID=4039 (accessed 11 December 2017).
MLA Format
Baily, Charles, and Cecilia Astolfi. "Student Reasoning about the Divergence of a Vector Field." Physics Education Research Conference 2014. Minneapolis, MN: 2014. 31-34 of PER Conference. 11 Dec. 2017 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13440&DocID=4039>.
BibTeX Export Format
@inproceedings{ Author = "Charles Baily and Cecilia Astolfi", Title = {Student Reasoning about the Divergence of a Vector Field}, BookTitle = {Physics Education Research Conference 2014}, Pages = {31-34}, Address = {Minneapolis, MN}, Series = {PER Conference}, Month = {July 30-31}, Year = {2014} }
Refer Export Format

%A Charles Baily
%A Cecilia Astolfi
%T Student Reasoning about the Divergence of a Vector Field
%S PER Conference
%D July 30-31 2014
%P 31-34
%C Minneapolis, MN
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13440&DocID=4039
%O Physics Education Research Conference 2014
%O July 30-31
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Conference Proceedings
%A Baily, Charles
%A Astolfi, Cecilia
%D July 30-31 2014
%T Student Reasoning about the Divergence of a Vector Field
%B Physics Education Research Conference 2014
%C Minneapolis, MN
%P 31-34
%S PER Conference
%8 July 30-31
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13440&DocID=4039


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