Most students see the battery as the source of electrical effects in a circuit

Electricity and Magnetism


Resources to Address This

  • Two Jobs for the Battery (11-14)

    This resource looks at the role of the battery in a simple electric circuit.

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

    Bulbs are often used in the teaching of series and parallel circuits, but using these does not always help students understand the concept of conservation of current and the relationship between voltage, current and energy transfer. This paper discusses some of the students’ misconceptions that need to be addressed and suggests using meters more often to analyse circuit behaviour.

    Paper digest

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

    When studying electricity, the most difficult concept for secondary students to understand is that of potential difference or voltage. Students cannot clearly separate it from current or energy and the simple circuits used do not always help. This paper shows that teachers need to describe and model currents and voltages more clearly, using meters to measure instead of relying on concepts such as ‘brightness’.

    Paper digest

  • Borges, A. T. and Gilbert, J. K. () Mental models of electricity. International Journal of Science Education, 21 (1), 95-117.

    A study including electrical engineers shows that a fully correct understanding of electrical principles is not always necessary to work in the field. This paper describes how students and professionals picture electric currents and discusses how to develop models and teaching techniques that will allow students to link electrical concepts correctly.

    Paper digest

  • 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), 259-275.

  • Leone, M. () History of Physics as a Tool to Detect the Conceptual Difficulties Experienced by Students: The Case of Simple Electric Circuits in Primary Education. Science & Education, 23 (4), 923-953.

  • Eylon, B. S. and Ganiel, U. () Macro-micro relationships: the missing link between electrostatics and electrodynamics in students' reasoning. International Journal of Science Education, 12 (1), 71-94.

  • Azaiza, I., Bar, V. and Galili, I. () Learning electricity in elementary school. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 4 (1), 45-71.

  • Selman, R. L., Krupa, M. P., Stone, C. R. and Jaquette, D. S. () Concrete Operational Thought and the Emergence of the Concept of Unseen Force in Children’s Theories of Electromagnetism and Gravity. Science Education, 66 (2), 181-194.

  • Psillos, D., Tiberghien, A. and Koumaras, P. () Voltage presented as a primary concept in an introductory teaching sequence on DC circuits. International Journal of Science Education, 10 (1), 29-43.

  • Summers, M., Kruger, C. and Mant, J. () Teaching electricity effectively in the primary school: a case study. International Journal of Science Education, 20 (2), 153-172.

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