Changes in University Students' Explanation Models of DC Circuits

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Kokkonen , T & Mäntylä , T 2018 , ' Changes in University Students' Explanation Models of DC Circuits ' , Research in Science Education , vol. 48 , no. 4 , pp. 753-775 .

Title: Changes in University Students' Explanation Models of DC Circuits
Author: Kokkonen, Tommi; Mäntylä, Terhi
Contributor organization: Department of Physics
Date: 2018-08
Language: eng
Number of pages: 23
Belongs to series: Research in Science Education
ISSN: 0157-244X
Abstract: One well-known learning obstacle is that students rarely use the concepts in the way that scientists use them. Rather, students mix up closely related concepts and are inclined towards matter-based conceptualisations. Furthermore, some researchers have argued that certain difficulties are rooted in the student's limited repertoire of causal schemes. These two aspects are conveniently represented in the recent proposal of the systemic view of concept learning. We applied this framework in our analyses of university students' explanations of DC circuits and their use of concepts such as voltage, current and resistance. Our data consist of transcribed group interviews, which we analysed with content analysis. The results of our analysis are represented with directed graphs. Our results show that students had a rather refined ontological knowledge of the concepts. However, students relied on rather simple explanation models, but few students were able to modify their explanations during the interview. Based on the analysis, we identified three processes of change: model switch, model refinement and model elaboration. This emphasises the importance of relevant relational knowledge at a later stage of learning. This demonstrates how concept individuation and learning of relational structures occurs (and in which order) and sets forth interesting research questions for future research.
Subject: Concept learning
Systemic view
DC circuits
Conceptual graphs
114 Physical sciences
516 Educational sciences
Peer reviewed: Yes
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: acceptedVersion

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