Student reasoning about the divergence of a vector field
MetadataShow full item record
Expanding our knowledge of student difficulties in advanced undergraduate electromagnetism is essential if we are to develop effective instructional interventions. Drawing on an analysis of course materials, in-class observations and responses to conceptual questions, we document specific resources employed by students when reasoning about the divergence of a vector field. One common student error, which persisted in our course despite explicit instruction, is to misinterpret any "spreading out" of field lines in a diagram as representing a place of non-zero divergence. Some of these student difficulties can likely be attributed to having first learned about the divergence in a mathematical context, where there was little emphasis on graphical representations of vector fields and connections to physical situations.
Baily , C & Astolfi , C 2015 , Student reasoning about the divergence of a vector field . in P V Engelhardt , A D Churukian & D L Jones (eds) , 2014 Physics Education Research Conference . PERC Proceedings , American Association of Physics Teachers , pp. 31-34 , Physics Education Research Conference 2014 , Minneapolis, MN , United States , 30/07/14 . DOI: 10.1119/perc.2014.pr.004conference
2014 Physics Education Research Conference
© 2014 American Association of Physics Teachers and the article authors. This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the published article's author(s), title, proceedings citation, and DOI.
Items in the St Andrews Research Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.