Electrical Circuit
Electricity and Magnetism

Thinking about actions to take: Electrical Working in Loops

Teaching Guidance for 14-16 Supporting Physics Teaching

There's a good chance you could improve your teaching if you were to:

Try these

  • work with an awareness that the majority of experiences that most students have to guide their ideas are based on the classroom
  • focus on power and not on energy
  • distinguish clearly between energy in stores (joule) and power in pathways (watt)
  • work in the present tense What's happening now whilst the circuit loop is complete
  • use the circuit loop as a unit of explanation, prediction and analysis
  • emphasise that (dissipative) electrical potential differences in a circuit depend on a complete loop

Teacher Tip: Work through the Physics Narrative to find these lines of thinking worked out and then look in the Teaching Approaches for some examples of activities.

Avoid these

  • electrical energy
  • sequential analogies of the working of electric circuits
  • ad-hoc algorithms for calculating and predicting
  • conflating gravitational potential difference with electrical potential difference

Teacher Tip: These difficulties are distilled from: the research findings; the practice of well-connected teachers with expertise; issues intrinsic to representing the physics well.

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