Students’ use of symbolic forms when constructing differential length elements Documents

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Student use of symbolic forms when constructing differential vector elements 

written by Benjamin P. Schermerhorn and John R. Thompson

As part of an effort to examine students' understanding of the structure of non-Cartesian coordinate systems and the differential vector elements associated with these systems, students in junior-level electricity and magnetism (E&M) were interviewed in pairs. Students constructed differential length and volume elements for an unconventional spherical coordinate system. A symbolic forms analysis found that students invoked known as well as novel symbolic forms when building these vector expressions. Further analysis suggests that student difficulties were primarily conceptual rather than symbolic.

Last Modified December 1, 2016

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