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dc.contributor.authorBollen, Laurens
dc.contributor.authorvan Kampen, Paul
dc.contributor.authorBaily, Charles
dc.contributor.authorDe Cock, Mieke
dc.identifier.citationBollen , L , van Kampen , P , Baily , C & De Cock , M 2016 , ' Qualitative investigation into students’ use of divergence and curl in electromagnetism ' , Physical Review Physics Education Research , vol. 12 , no. 2 , 020134 .
dc.identifier.otherPURE: 247863987
dc.identifier.otherPURE UUID: 5a288646-707c-4f84-a921-70fba3554011
dc.identifier.otherScopus: 85011395630
dc.identifier.otherORCID: /0000-0001-6213-503X/work/41932058
dc.identifier.otherWOS: 000393401300001
dc.description.abstractMany students struggle with the use of mathematics in physics courses. Although typically well trained in rote mathematical calculation, they often lack the ability to apply their acquired skills to physical contexts. Such student difficulties are particularly apparent in undergraduate electrodynamics, which relies heavily on the use of vector calculus. To gain insight into student reasoning when solving problems involving divergence and curl, we conducted eight semistructured individual student interviews. During these interviews, students discussed the divergence and curl of electromagnetic fields using graphical representations, mathematical calculations, and the differential form of Maxwell’s equations. We observed that while many students attempt to clarify the problem by making a sketch of the electromagnetic field, they struggle to interpret graphical representations of vector fields in terms of divergence and curl. In addition, some students confuse the characteristics of field line diagrams and field vector plots. By interpreting our results within the conceptual blending framework, we show how a lack of conceptual understanding of the vector operators and difficulties with graphical representations can account for an improper understanding of Maxwell’s equations in differential form. Consequently, specific learning materials based on a multiple representation approach are required to clarify Maxwell’s equations.
dc.relation.ispartofPhysical Review Physics Education Researchen
dc.rights© 2016 The Authors. Published by the American Physical Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the published article’s title, journal citation, and DOI.en
dc.subjectQC Physicsen
dc.titleQualitative investigation into students’ use of divergence and curl in electromagnetismen
dc.typeJournal articleen
dc.description.versionPublisher PDFen
dc.contributor.institutionUniversity of St Andrews. School of Physics and Astronomyen
dc.description.statusPeer revieweden

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