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Student Objections to and Understanding of Non-Cartesian Unit Vector Notation in Upper-Level E&M
written by Brant E. Hinrichs
The upper level E&M course (i.e. based on Griffiths) involves the extensive integration of vector calculus concepts and notation with abstract physics concepts like field and potential. We hope that students take what they have learned in their math classes and apply it to help represent and make sense of the physics. Previous work showed that physics majors at different levels (pre-E&M course, post-E&M course, 1st year graduate students) had great difficulty using non-Cartesian unit vector symbols appropriately in a particular context. Since then we have developed a series of problems they work on in groups and discuss as a whole class to help them confront and resolve some of their difficulties. This paper presents those problems, typical in-class group responses, and three years of post-test data. Results show that students have (i) a very strong initial negative reaction to the vagueness of the r symbol, and (ii) an improved functional understanding of the notation as demonstrated by a better ability to use the symbols appropriately.
Physics Education Research Conference 2017
Part of the PER Conference series
Cincinnati, OH: July 26-27, 2017
Pages 176-179
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education - Basic Research
- Alternative Conceptions
- Assessment
= Conceptual Assessment
- Learning Theory
= Transfer
- Student Characteristics
= Affect
Mathematical Tools
- Coordinate Systems
- Vector Calculus
- Upper Undergraduate
- Lower Undergraduate
- Reference Material
= Research study
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Format:
application/pdf
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.2017.pr.039
Keywords:
PERC 2017, board meeting, cylindrical unit vectors, intermediate electrodynamics, position vector, spherical unit vectors
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created February 26, 2018 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
March 1, 2018 by Bruce Mason
Last Update
when Cataloged:
March 1, 2018
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Record Link
AIP Format
B. Hinrichs, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2017, Cincinnati, OH, 2017, WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14599&DocID=4776).
AJP/PRST-PER
B. Hinrichs, Student Objections to and Understanding of Non-Cartesian Unit Vector Notation in Upper-Level E&M, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2017, Cincinnati, OH, 2017, <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14599&DocID=4776>.
APA Format
Hinrichs, B. (2017, July 26-27). Student Objections to and Understanding of Non-Cartesian Unit Vector Notation in Upper-Level E&M. Paper presented at Physics Education Research Conference 2017, Cincinnati, OH. Retrieved August 9, 2020, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14599&DocID=4776
Chicago Format
Hinrichs, Brant. "Student Objections to and Understanding of Non-Cartesian Unit Vector Notation in Upper-Level E&M." Paper presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2017, Cincinnati, OH, July 26-27, 2017. https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14599&DocID=4776 (accessed 9 August 2020).
MLA Format
Hinrichs, Brant. "Student Objections to and Understanding of Non-Cartesian Unit Vector Notation in Upper-Level E&M." Physics Education Research Conference 2017. Cincinnati, OH: 2017. 176-179 of PER Conference. 9 Aug. 2020 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14599&DocID=4776>.
BibTeX Export Format
@inproceedings{ Author = "Brant Hinrichs", Title = {Student Objections to and Understanding of Non-Cartesian Unit Vector Notation in Upper-Level E&M}, BookTitle = {Physics Education Research Conference 2017}, Pages = {176-179}, Address = {Cincinnati, OH}, Series = {PER Conference}, Month = {July 26-27}, Year = {2017} }
Refer Export Format

%A Brant Hinrichs
%T Student Objections to and Understanding of Non-Cartesian Unit Vector Notation in Upper-Level E&M
%S PER Conference
%D July 26-27 2017
%P 176-179
%C Cincinnati, OH
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14599&DocID=4776
%O Physics Education Research Conference 2017
%O July 26-27
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Conference Proceedings
%A Hinrichs, Brant
%D July 26-27 2017
%T Student Objections to and Understanding of Non-Cartesian Unit Vector Notation in Upper-Level E&M
%B Physics Education Research Conference 2017
%C Cincinnati, OH
%P 176-179
%S PER Conference
%8 July 26-27
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14599&DocID=4776


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Student Objections to and Understanding of Non-Cartesian Unit Vector Notation in Upper-Level E&M:


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