Many pupils think that a battery supplies the same current, regardless of the circuit in which it is used.

Electricity and Magnetism


Those pupils who do not use this idea in very simple situations often revert to it in slightly more complex ones.

Diagnostic Resources

The following worksheets may help to identify whether students hold this particular misconception.

For more information, see the University of York EPSE website.

Resources to Address This

  • What Fixes How Big or Small the Electric Current Is? (11-14)

    Source - SPT / El01TL09

    This resource offers teachers some tips on how to avoid the misconception that the same battery will always produce the same current in different situations.

    View Resource
  • The resistance sets the current for the whole circuit (5-11)

    Source - SPT / Ec01TL08

    Explore the idea that changing the resistance in a circuit, changes the current.

    View Resource
  • Investigating the current around a circuit (11-19)

    Source - Practical physics/ Electric circuits and fields/ Simple electric circuits/ ...

    Investigating how the current changes as the circuit is changed.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • Küçüközer, H. and Kocakülah, S. () Secondary School Students' Misconceptions about Simple Electric Circuits. Journal of Turkish Science Education.

  • Küçüközer, H. and Kocakülah, S. () Effect of Simple Electric Circuits Teaching on Conceptual Change in Grade 9 Physics Course. Journal of Turkish Science Education.

  • Dupin, J. J. and Johsua, S. () Conceptions of French pupils concerning electric circuits: Structure and evolution. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 24 (9),


  • Engelhardt, P. V. and Beichner, R. J. () Students’ understanding of direct current resistive electrical circuits. American Journal of Physics, 72 (1),


  • Koumaras, P.; Kariotoglou, P. and Psillos, D. () Causal structures and counter‐intuitive experiments in electricity. International Journal of Science Education, 19 (6),


  • Peşman, H. and Eryılmaz, A. () Development of a Three-Tier Test to Assess Misconceptions About Simple Electric Circuits The Journal of Educational Research, 103 (3),


  • Lee, Y. and Law, N. () Explorations in promoting conceptual change in electrical concepts via ontological category shift. International Journal of Science Education, 23 (2),


  • Bryan, J. A. and Stuessy, C. () The "Brightness Rules" alternative conception for light bulb circuits Physics Education, 41 (6),


  • McDermott, L. C. and Shaffer, P. S. () Research as a guide for curriculum development: An example from introductory electricity. Part I: Investigation of student understanding. American Journal of Physics, 60 (11),


  • Paatz, R.; Ryder, J.; Schwedes, H. and Scott, P. () A case study analysing the process of analogy‐based learning in a teaching unit about simple electric circuits. International Journal of Science Education, 26 (9),


  • Cohen, R.; Eylon, B. and Ganiel, U. () Potential difference and current in simple electric circuits: A study of students’ concepts. American Journal of Physics, 51 (5),


  • Turgut, Ü.; Gürbüz, F. and Turgut, G. () An investigation 10th grade students’ misconceptions about electric current. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 15,


  • Van den Berg, E. and Grosheide, W. () Electricity at Home: Remediating alternative conceptions through redefining goals and concept sequences and using auxiliary concepts and analogies in 9th grade electricity education. The Proceedings of the Third International Seminar on Misconceptions and Educational Strategies in Science and Mathematics: Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

  • Heller, P. M. and Finley, F. N. () Variable Uses of Alternative Conceptions: A Case Study in Current Electricity. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 29 (3),



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