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Probing university students’ understanding of electromotive force in electricity

Garzon, Isabel and De Cock, Mieke and Zuza, Kristina and van Kampen, Paul and Guisasola, Jenaro (2014) Probing university students’ understanding of electromotive force in electricity. American Journal of Physics, 82 (1). pp. 72-81. ISSN 0002-9505

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The goal of this study is to identify students’ difficulties with learning the concepts of electromotive force (emf) and potential difference in the context of transitory currents and resistive direct-current circuits. To investigate these difficulties, we developed a questionnaire based on an analysis of the theoretical and epistemological framework of physics, which was then administered to first-year engineering and physics students at universities in Spain, Colombia, and Belgium. The results of the study show that student difficulties seem to be strongly linked to the absence of an analysis of the energy balance within the circuit and that most university students do not clearly understand the usefulness of and the difference between the concepts of potential difference and emf.

Item Type:Article (Published)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Electrical circuits; Student understanding
Subjects:Physical Sciences > Physics education
DCU Faculties and Centres:Research Initiatives and Centres > Center for the Advancement of Science Teaching and Learning (CASTeL)
DCU Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science and Health > School of Physical Sciences
Publisher:American Institute of Physics
Official URL:
Copyright Information:© 2014 AIP
Use License:This item is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. View License
Funders:Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology
ID Code:19784
Deposited On:05 Feb 2014 14:14 by Paul Van Kampen. Last Modified 06 Apr 2017 11:16

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