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PERC 2012 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Sines and Signs - Student difficulties with trigonometric vector component problems
Abstract: We investigated student understanding of simple vector component problems. Students in a calculus-based introductory physics class were given a variety of vector component questions, with the angle placed in various orientations. For example, the angle could be given with respect to vertical/horizontal, or with respect to the tip/tail of the vector. Student solution methods, as well as relative frequencies of different errors, were found to depend on the configuration of the given angle. Overall results suggest that many students based their answers on the most commonly seen canonical angle configuration, while others used their own methods to maintain the validity of the canonical solution path. Possible training methods to correct for the misconceptions involved are discussed.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Brendon Mikula
The Ohio State University
191 W Woodruff Ave
1040 Physics Research Building
Columbus, OH 43210
Phone: 614-292-5713
Fax: 614-292-7557
and Co-Presenter(s)
Andrew Heckler (The Ohio State University)