Student difficulties with complex numbers Documents

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Student difficulties with complex numbers 

written by Emily M. Smith, Justyna P. Zwolak, and Corinne A. Manogue

Complex numbers and functions are used in multiple subfields in undergraduate physics. We use pretests, quizzes, and exams administered throughout the junior year to identify middle-division students' difficulties with complex number fluency. These difficulties are classified into three categories: performing calculations, switching between forms, and appropriately selecting forms to simplify calculations. Our exploration suggests that students in middle-division physics courses have varying levels of fluency with complex number manipulations. Some of these difficulties persist over time.

Last Modified December 16, 2015

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