Detail Page

Upper-Division Students' Use of Separation of Variables
written by Steven J. Pollock and Bethany R. Wilcox
Separation of variables can be a powerful technique for solving many of the partial differential equations that arise in physics contexts. Upper-division physics students encounter this technique in multiple topical areas including electrostatics and quantum mechanics. To better understand the difficulties students encounter when utilizing the separation of variables technique, we examined responses to midterm exam questions and conceptual assessments, and conducted think-aloud, problem-solving interviews. Our analysis was guided by an analytical framework that focuses on how students activate, construct, execute, and reflect on the separation of variables technique when solving physics problems. Here we focus on student difficulties with separation of variables as a technique to solve Laplace's equation in spherical coordinates in the context of junior-level electrostatics. Challenges include: recognizing when separation of variables is the appropriate tool, identifying implicit boundary conditions, and spontaneously reflecting on their solutions.
Physics Education Research Conference 2015
Part of the PER Conference series
College Park, MD: July 29-30, 2015
Pages 259-262
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Foundations
- Alternative Conceptions
- Problem Solving
= Heuristics
= Processes
- Student Characteristics
= Skills
Electricity & Magnetism
- Electric Fields and Potential
= Electrostatic Boundary Conditions
Mathematical Tools
- Multivariable Calculus
= Partial Derivative
- Problem-Solving Techniques
- Upper Undergraduate
- Reference Material
= Research study
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Researchers
- application/pdf
  • Currently 0.0/5

Want to rate this material?
Login here!


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.2015.pr.060
NSF Numbers:
1023028
1144083
PACS:
01.40.Fk
Keyword:
PERC 2015
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created December 16, 2015 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
December 18, 2015 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
December 18, 2015
Other Collections:

ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
S. Pollock and B. Wilcox, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2015, College Park, MD, 2015, WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13886&DocID=4304).
AJP/PRST-PER
S. Pollock and B. Wilcox, Upper-Division Students' Use of Separation of Variables, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2015, College Park, MD, 2015, <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13886&DocID=4304>.
APA Format
Pollock, S., & Wilcox, B. (2015, July 29-30). Upper-Division Students' Use of Separation of Variables. Paper presented at Physics Education Research Conference 2015, College Park, MD. Retrieved December 17, 2017, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13886&DocID=4304
Chicago Format
Pollock, Steven, and Bethany Wilcox. "Upper-Division Students' Use of Separation of Variables." Paper presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2015, College Park, MD, July 29-30, 2015. https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13886&DocID=4304 (accessed 17 December 2017).
MLA Format
Pollock, Steven, and Bethany Wilcox. "Upper-Division Students' Use of Separation of Variables." Physics Education Research Conference 2015. College Park, MD: 2015. 259-262 of PER Conference. 17 Dec. 2017 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13886&DocID=4304>.
BibTeX Export Format
@inproceedings{ Author = "Steven Pollock and Bethany Wilcox", Title = {Upper-Division Students' Use of Separation of Variables}, BookTitle = {Physics Education Research Conference 2015}, Pages = {259-262}, Address = {College Park, MD}, Series = {PER Conference}, Month = {July 29-30}, Year = {2015} }
Refer Export Format

%A Steven Pollock
%A Bethany Wilcox
%T Upper-Division Students' Use of Separation of Variables
%S PER Conference
%D July 29-30 2015
%P 259-262
%C College Park, MD
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13886&DocID=4304
%O Physics Education Research Conference 2015
%O July 29-30
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Conference Proceedings
%A Pollock, Steven
%A Wilcox, Bethany
%D July 29-30 2015
%T Upper-Division Students' Use of Separation of Variables
%B Physics Education Research Conference 2015
%C College Park, MD
%P 259-262
%S PER Conference
%8 July 29-30
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13886&DocID=4304


Disclaimer: ComPADRE offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure. Please refer to the style manuals in the Citation Source Information area for clarifications.

Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

Upper-Division Students' Use of Separation of Variables:


Know of another related resource? Login to relate this resource to it.
Save to my folders

Contribute

Related Materials

Similar Materials