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Abstract Title: Investigating Student Understanding of Vector Calculus in Junior-Level E&M
Abstract: Over the past several years the Physics Education Group at the University of Washington has been working to probe the difficulties students encounter in junior-level electrodynamics courses.  A large proportion of these difficulties involve interpreting mathematical statements about physical systems, such as Maxwell's equations; many students fail to recognize that the differential forms of these equations describe the physical nature of the electric and magnetic fields.  In particular, three main categories of difficulties emerged: (1) inappropriate generalization of the divergence and curl; (2) conflation between precise mathematical meaning and loose colloquial descriptions; and (3) failure to identify inconsistencies between students' intuition and the physical behavior of a field.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Ryan Hazelton
University of Washington
200 NE 65th St
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 9259181037
and Co-Presenter(s)
Bert C Xue, University of Washington
Peter S Shaffer, University of Washington