NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1158938
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0020-739X
Challenging Assumptions of Notational Transparency: The Case of Vectors in Engineering Mathematics
Craig, Tracy S.
International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, v48 suppl 1 pS50-S66 2017
The notation for vector analysis has a contentious nineteenth century history, with many different notations describing the same or similar concepts competing for use. While the twentieth century has seen a great deal of unification in vector analysis notation, variation still remains. In this paper, the two primary notations used for expressing the components of a vector are discussed in historical and current context. Popular mathematical texts use the two notations as if they are transparent and interchangeable. In this research project, engineering students' proficiency at vector analysis was assessed and the data were analyzed using the Rasch measurement method. Results indicate that the students found items expressed in unit vector notation more difficult than those expressed in parenthesis notation. The expert experience of notation as transparent and unproblematically symbolic of underlying processes independent of notation is shown to contrast with the student experience where the less familiar notation is experienced as harder to work with.
Taylor & Francis. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 530 Walnut Street Suite 850, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Tel: 215-625-8900; Fax: 215-207-0050; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A