Abstract/Details

Examining students' understanding of electrical circuits through multiple-choice testing and interviews


1997 1997

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

Research has shown that both high school and university students have misconceptions about direct current resistive electric circuits. At present, there are no standard diagnostic examinations in electric circuits. Such an instrument would be useful in determining what conceptual problems students have either before or after instruction. The information provided by the exam can be used by classroom instructors to evaluate their instructional methods and the progress and conceptual problems of their students. It can be used to evaluate curricular packages and/or other supplemental materials for their effectiveness in overcoming students' conceptual difficulties.

Two versions of a diagnostic instrument known as Determining and Interpreting Resistive Electric circuits Concepts Tests (DIRECT) were developed, each consisting of 29 questions. DIRECT was administered to groups of high school and university students in the United States, Canada and Germany. The students had completed their study of electrostatics and direct current electric circuits prior to taking the exam.

Individual interviews were conducted after the administration of version 1.0 to determine how students were interpreting the questions and to uncover their reasoning behind their selections. The analyses indicate that students, especially females, tend to hold multiple misconceptions, even after instruction. The idea that the battery is a constant source of current was used most often in answering the questions. Although students tend to use different misconceptions for each question presented, they do use misconceptions associated with the global objective of the question. Students' definitions of terms used on the exam and their misconceptions were examined. Students tended to confuse terms, especially current. They assigned the properties of current to voltage and/or resistance.

One of the major findings from the study was that students were able to translate easily from a "realistic" representation of a circuit to the corresponding schematic diagram. Results indicated that students do not have a clear understanding of the underlying mechanisms of electric circuit phenomena. Students had difficulty handling simultaneous changes of variable. Current was the main concept used in solving the problems. Some of the students who were interviewed reverted to formulas to answer the questions.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Science education;
Educational evaluation;
Secondary education;
Higher education
Classification
0714: Science education
0288: Educational evaluation
0533: Secondary education
0745: Higher education
Identifier / keyword
Education
Title
Examining students' understanding of electrical circuits through multiple-choice testing and interviews
Author
Engelhardt, Paula Vetter
Number of pages
243
Publication year
1997
Degree date
1997
School code
0155
Source
DAI-A 58/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9780591476569, 0591476568
Advisor
Beichner, Robert J.
University/institution
North Carolina State University
University location
United States -- North Carolina
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
9737638
ProQuest document ID
304378442
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/304378442
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.