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PERC 2012 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Effect of contextual variations on student responses to questions about an open DC circuit comprising a battery and a single resistive element
Abstract: We report on a study of student responses to questions about an open DC circuit when small representational, linguistic and circuit element variations are made. The 8 question instrument elicited an answer choice followed by a written explanation for the choice. Based on their responses students were selected for videotaped interviews. Our findings indicate that the changes significantly affected the way in which students responded. From the written explanations we identified a "foothold idea" that appeared more productive than others in activating appropriate reasoning across variational presentation. The interviews indicated that often what could superficially be ascribed to a lack of understanding in fact arose from sense-making efforts based on experiential episodes with hidden ambiguities. One provocative question arising from the study is to what extent findings pertaining to student understanding of DC circuits are valid when an instrument used is based solely on questions around light bulbs.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Ignatius John
Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Symphony Way
Cape Town, 7535
Phone: +27825041365
and Co-Presenter(s)
Saalih Allie
University of Cape Town
Cape Town
South Africa