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Confronting misconceptions in the domain of simple electrical circuits

PAUL BRNA
Instructional Science
Vol. 17, No. 1 (1988), pp. 29-55
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23369119
Page Count: 27
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Confronting misconceptions in the domain of simple electrical circuits
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Abstract

This paper starts from the assumption that learning is promoted through confronting students with the inconsistencies entailed by their own beliefs. The issue is explored in the domain of electricity in the context of simple DC circuits. Previous work is used as the basis for the construction of a programme of work that is undertaken by a group of students. This programme entailed the development of a computer-based modelling environment called ELAB. The underlying design principle is that students should be able to model electrical circuits at a level which permits them to express some of their explicit (possibly mistaken) beliefs about relevant concepts. Other, implicit, beliefs should also be detectable through use of the system. The results derived from observation suggest that computer-based modelling facilities can provide advantages over approaches exploiting other media. In particular, such systems can be used to promote the kinds of intellectual conflict that are believed to be beneficial.

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