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2011 AAPT Summer Meeting
July 30-August 3, 2011
Omaha, Nebraska

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Students' Difficulties with Scalar Multiplication of a Vector and Vector Subtraction
  Location: KFC Courts
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.2
  Time: 6:00 PM -6:45 PM
  Author: Genaro Zavala, Tecnologico de Monterrey
528183582000, x4631,
  Co-Author(s): Pablo Barniol
  Abstract: In this work we investigate students' understanding of: 1) scalar multiplication of a vector and, 2) vector subtraction. We administered two tests to 717 students completing introductory physics courses at a private Mexican university. In the first part, we used a modified version of a problem designed by Van Deventer [1] to investigate students' difficulties with multiplication of a vector by a positive scalar and we designed a problem to study students' difficulties with multiplication of a vector by a negative scalar. We compared the frequencies of the errors in these two problems to comprehend students' conceptions in these vector operations. In the second part, we designed a vector subtraction problem and identified errors that havenĀ“t been reported in the literature.
  Footnotes: [1] J. Van Deventer, Comparing student performance on isomorphic math and physics vector representations, Master?s Thesis, The University of Maine, 2008.
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