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E&M Tutorial V: Revisiting the Superposition Principle after Gauss' Law
written by Chandralekha Singh and the University of Pittsburgh Physics Education Research Group
This research-based student tutorial covers the topics of Gauss's Law and the superposition principle in electrostatics. The material is appropriate for a calculus-based introductory physics course.

The tutorial is designed for use after traditional instruction as an in-class supplement, out-of-class homework, or student self-study tool. The authors recommend that the tutorial be given in-class to students working in groups of 2-3. A majority of student groups can finish the pre-test and tutorial in a 1 hour 50 minute period.

A pre-test and post-test are available to assess student learning. If used, the pre-test should be given after traditional instruction and before the tutorial. The post-test should be given the following class so that students that do not finish the tutorial can do so at home before taking the post-test. The pre- and post-tests each require 15-20 minutes to complete. Professors may choose to give the pre-test in-class after traditional instruction, the tutorial as homework, and the post-test in the following class.

This work is based on research into students' common difficulties in applying the superposition principle and Gauss's law in electrostatics. Some of these findings are available in Student Understanding of Symmetry and Gauss's Law of Electricity, Am. J. Phys. 74 (10), 923-936 (2006). Details of the design, construction and testing of the tutorial are available in J. Li, Improving Students' Understanding of Electricity and Magnetism, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, 2012 and J. Li, A. Maries and C. Singh, Helping students apply superposition principle in problems involving spherical, cylindrical and planar charge distributions, Am. J. Phys. 91 (8), 613-616 (2023).

This tutorial was last updated in August 2023.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Problem Solving
Electricity & Magnetism
- Electric Fields and Potential
= Electric Field
= Gauss' Law
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Tutorial
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- Learners
- Researchers
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- application/zip
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© 2006 Chandralekha Singh and the University of Pittsburgh Physics Education Research Group
Keyword:
Pitt Tutorial EM
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created January 20, 2013 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
August 16, 2023 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
June 14, 2012
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AIP Format
C. Singh and University of Pittsburgh Physics Education Research Group, (2006), WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12595&DocID=3189).
AJP/PRST-PER
C. Singh and University of Pittsburgh Physics Education Research Group, E&M Tutorial V: Revisiting the Superposition Principle after Gauss' Law (2006), <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12595&DocID=3189>.
APA Format
Singh, C., & University of Pittsburgh Physics Education Research Group. (2012, June 14). E&M Tutorial V: Revisiting the Superposition Principle after Gauss' Law. Retrieved July 17, 2024, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12595&DocID=3189
Chicago Format
Singh, Chandralekha, and University of Pittsburgh Physics Education Research Group. E&M Tutorial V: Revisiting the Superposition Principle after Gauss' Law. June 14, 2012. https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12595&DocID=3189 (accessed 17 July 2024).
MLA Format
Singh, Chandralekha, and University of Pittsburgh Physics Education Research Group. E&M Tutorial V: Revisiting the Superposition Principle after Gauss' Law. 2006. 14 June 2012. 17 July 2024 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12595&DocID=3189>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Chandralekha Singh and University of Pittsburgh Physics Education Research Group", Title = {E&M Tutorial V: Revisiting the Superposition Principle after Gauss' Law}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {17 July 2024}, Month = {June 14, 2012}, Year = {2006} }
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%A Chandralekha Singh %T E&M Tutorial V: Revisiting the Superposition Principle after Gauss' Law %D June 14, 2012 %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12595&DocID=3189 %O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %A Singh, Chandralekha %A University of Pittsburgh Physics Education Research Group, %D June 14, 2012 %T E&M Tutorial V: Revisiting the Superposition Principle after Gauss' Law %V 2024 %N 17 July 2024 %8 June 14, 2012 %9 application/pdf %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12595&DocID=3189

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