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Exploring student difficulties with observation location
Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings (2015)
  • Jamie Bryant, DePaul University
  • Rita Dawod, DePaul University
  • Susan M Fischer, DePaul University
  • Mary Bridget Kustusch, DePaul University
Throughout introductory physics, students create and interpret free body diagrams in which multiple
forces act on an object, typically at a single location (the object’s center of mass). The situation increases in
difficulty when multiple objects are involved, and further when electric and magnetic fields are present. In
the latter, sources of the fields are often identified as a set of electric charges or current-carrying wires, and
students are asked to determine the electric or magnetic field at a separate location defined as the observation
location. Previous research suggests students do not always appropriately account for how a measurement or
calculation depends on the observation location. We present preliminary results from a studio-style, algebra-
based, introductory electricity and magnetism course showing the prevalence of correct and incorrect responses
to questions about observation location by analyzing student written work involving vector addition of fields.
Publication Date
Citation Information
Jamie Bryant, Rita Dawod, Susan M Fischer and Mary Bridget Kustusch. "Exploring student difficulties with observation location" Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings (2015)
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