Stokes’ Theorem: A candidate threshold concept.


An investigation into whether Stokes’ Theorem, a mathematical concept in the field of Vector Calculus, is a threshold concept was conducted. This concept is taught as part of a second year undergraduate course for physicists at the University of Bristol. The investigation has two phases; first a theoretical examination of some of the criteria of a threshold concept to see if Stokes’ theorem fits them, and then a student survey to analyse the applicability of the threshold concept label from the more subjective point of view of the learner. It was found that there is compelling evidence to support the case that Stokes’ Theorem is indeed a threshold concept, and a brief discussion is made to assess how this identification can inform teaching and learning methods.



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