NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1143414
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-2469-9896
Students' Reasoning When Tackling Electric Field and Potential in Explanation of DC Resistive Circuits
Leniz, Ane; Zuza, Kristina; Guiasola, Jenaro
Physical Review Physics Education Research, v13 n1 p010128-1-010128-12 Jan-Jun 2017
This study examines the causal reasoning that university students use to explain how dc circuits work. We analyze how students use the concepts of electric field and potential difference in their explanatory models of dc circuits, and what kinds of reasoning they use at the macroscopic and microscopic levels in their explanations. This knowledge is essential to help instructors design and implement new teaching approaches that encourage students to articulate the macroscopic and microscopic levels of description. A questionnaire with an emphasis on explanations was used to analyze students' reasoning. In this analysis of students' reasoning in the microscopic and macroscopic modeling processes in a dc circuit, we refer to epistemological studies of scientific explanations. We conclude that the student explanations fall into three main categories of reasoning. The vast majority of students employ an explanatory model based on simple or linear causality and on relational reasoning. Moreover, around a third of students use a relational reasoning that relates two magnitudes current and resistance or conductivity of the material, which is included in a macroscopic explanatory model based on Ohm's law and the conservation of the current. In addition, few students situate the explanations at the microscopic level (charges or electrons) with unidirectional cause-effect reasoning. This study looks at a number of aspects that have been little mentioned in previous research at the university level, about the reasoning types students use when establishing macro-micro relationships and some possible difficulties with complex reasoning.
American Physical Society. One Physics Ellipse 4th Floor, College Park, MD 20740-3844. Tel: 301-209-3200; Fax: 301-209-0865; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Spain
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A