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Hacettepe Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi 21 : 113-120 {200l] HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS' MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SIMPLE ELECTRIC CIRCUITS LIsE ÖGRENCILERININ BASIT ELEKTRIK DEVRELERI ILE ILGILI KAVRAM YANıLGıLARı Selen SENCAR*, Elif Esra YILMAZ** and Ali ERYILMAZ*** ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to determine 1. INTRODUCTION: 9th grade students' misconceptions about simple electric For about 20 years, the role of circuits and to explore the relationship between these misconceptions and some selected variables (students' misconceptions in leaming science has been gender and experience about electric circuits). Review of investigated extensively, Numerous interviews literatureconceming simple electric circuits has shown that with students at various levels have been high school students have many misconceptions about this topic and in order to assess them, a diagnostic test was conducted and it was found that misconceptions develaped. The test, which was named as Simple Electric were frequent, The roots of misconceptions, Circuits Concept Test, is formed of 13 practical and 8 how they affect leaming of disciplinary theoretical questions. Mareaver, a questionnaire was also knowledge and how they can be remedied have given to students to determine their experience about simple electrk circuits. The study took place during 2000- been investigated by many researchers 2001 fall semester with the participationof 76 high school (Chambers & Andre, 1995; Shipstone, 1988; students. Results of analysis showed that high school Cohen, Eylon & Ganiel, 1983; Heller & Finley, students had considerable degree of misconceptions 1992). conceming simple electric circuits and these misconceptions were c10sely related with students' gender The term misconception refers to the ideas and previous experiences about simple electric circuits. that studentshave about any phenomenathat are KEY WORDS: simple electric circuits, misconceptions, gender difference, experience inconsistent with scientific conceptions. The goal of effectiye science instruction is to ÖZET: Bu çalışmanın amacı lise birinci sınıf encourage the student to construct an öğrencilerinin basit elektrik devreleri konusundaki kavram understanding that is generally consistent with yanılgılarını saptamak ve bulunan kavram yanılgıları ile cinsiyet ya da tecrübe arasında bir ilişki olup olmadığını accepted scientific theory. It is known that ortaya çıkarmaktır. Yapılan kaynak taramaları sonucu lise studentsuse preexisting conceptions constructed öğrencilerinin basit elektrik devreleri konusunda kavram from previous experience s to reason about yanılgıları olduğu belirlenmiş ve bu kavram yanılgılarını ölçen bir kavram testi geliştirilmiştir. Basit Elektrik newly presented science concepts (Driver & Devresi Kavram Testi olarak isimlendirilen test, tecrübeye Easley, 1978; Zietsman & Hewson, 1986). Such dayalı 13 ve teoriye dayalı 8 soru olmak üzere toplam 21 preconceptions are often incorrect from a sorudan oluşmaktadır. Öğrencilerin basit elektrik devreleri scientific viewpoint and can interfere with hakkındaki tecrübelerini belirlemek amacıyla, kavram testiyle birlikte bir anket verilmiştir. Çalışma 2000-2001 students leaming of science (Fredette & güz döneminde, toplam 76 lise birinci sınıf öğrencisiyle Clement, 1981). gerçekleştirilmiştir. Yapılan analizlerin sonuçları One active area of research on physics öğrencilerde sıklıkla görülen kavram yanılgıları belirlenmiş ve kavram yanılgıları cinsiyet ve tecrübeyle misconceptions is topic of simp1e electric ilişkilendirilmiştir. circuits. Research on students understandingof ANAHfAR SÖZCÜKLER: basit elektrik devreleri, kavram science showed that studentshave wide range of yanılgıları, cinsiyet farklılıkları, tecrübe misconceptions in the area of simple eleetne · Res. Assisı., METU, Faculty of Education, Secondary School Selence and Mathematics Education Depanment, Ankara *. METU, Faculty of Education, Secondary School Science and Mathematics Education Depanment, Ankara *.. Dr. MFTU, Faculty of Education, Secondary School Selence and Mathematirs Education Department. A.nkara 114 Se/en Sancar - Elif Esra Yılmaz - Ali Eryılmaz [EdJ. 21 of cireuits. According to these studies in the 9. Resistance and equivalent resistance: literature, students' common misconceptions Students think that if the number of about simple electric circuits are summarised resistance increase in a eireuit, equivalent below: resistance also increases as independent 1. Sink Model: Students think that single fromtheir connection type (Chambers & wire connection allows electricity to sink Andre,1997). from power source to device, thereby 10. Potential and potential difference: powering the device (Chambers & Andre, Students did not realise that brightness of 1997; McDermott & Shaffer, 1992). identical bulbs depends on how theyare 2. Clashing Current Model: Students think connected into circuit not on where they that positive electrieity moves from the are connected (Shipstone, Jung & Dupin, positive terminal and negatiye electricity 1988) . moves from the negatiye terminal and 1~. Sequential reasoning: If a eircuit element they meet at a device and clash (Heller & changed in a circuit, students analyse Finley, 1992; Chambers & Andre, 1997). eircuit in terms of before and after current 3. Weakening Current Model: Students think passes that place (Heller & Finley, 1992). that current flows in one direction and Main problem of the study is: "What are the gradually weakens because each device effects of gender and experience on 9th grade uses up some of the current (Heller & students' misconceptions about simple electric Finley, 1992; Chambers & Andre, 1997). circuits? " According to this main problem, the 4. Shared Current Model: Students think that sub-problems are as follows: devices share current equally but less 1. What are the students' misconceptions current tums to power supply (Heller & about the simple electric eircuİts? Finley, 1992; Charnbers & Andre, 1997). 2. What is the effect of gender on students' 5. Local Reasoning: When a change is made misconceptions about simple electric up in a eircuit, students often focus on the circuits? point where the change occurs; they do 3. What is the effect of experience on not recognise that change made at one students' misconceptions about simple point may result in changes at other parts electric circuits? (Cohen, Eylon & Ganiel, 1983; Heller & Finley, 1992). 2. METHOD 6. Short eircuit preconception: Students believe that in a circuit, wire connection 2.1. Subjects without devices attached to the wire can In this study, a total of 76 high school be ignored (Shipstone, Jung & Dupin, students including 38 ninth grade level students 1988). from Anatolian High School in Ankara and 38 7. Empirical Rule: Students think that the ninth grade level students from public High furtheraway the bulb is from the battery School in Adana participated where the number the dimmer the bulb (Heller & Finley, of males is 50 and number of females is 26. 1992). 2.2.lnstruments 8. Students regarded battery as a constant Two instruments were developed for this current source rather than a constant study. One of them is Simple Electric Circuit voltage source (Cohen, Eylon & Ganiel, diagnostic test to assess students' conceptual 1983; Heller & Finley, 1992; Psi110s & understanding about Simple Electric Circuits. Koumaras, 1988). Test consisted of 21 multiple-choice items and it High School Students' Misconceptions About Simple Electric Circuits llS includes two partS: First part is the practical misconception that means that low scores questions included 13 items and the second part indicate few misconceptions and high scores is theoretical questions with 8 items. The indicate more misconceptions. practical questions assess the students' Furthermore, a 28-item questionnaire was misconceptions about the practical use of the developed to assess students' experiences and components of simple electric circuits and interests towards simple electricity subject. interpretations of these components. The Some items from this scale are given in theoretical questions are also developed by the Appendix B. Reliability estimates of these two same reason for theoretical use of components instrumentswere calculated by using Cronbach (example for both types of questions can be seen alpha coefficient and they were obtained as 0.74 in Appendix A). While the diagnostic test items and 0.84 respectively. To check the face and were constructed, the steps given below are content vaIidity, tests were checked by two followed: physics professors, one educator and one high I. All questions, found from literature school physics teacher. review, were categorised according to the 2.3. Procedure misconception models, which are written Detailed Iiterature review about students' in the introductionpart, misconceptions on simple electric circuit was 2. For each misconception i or 2 questions done. All the available joumals and articles were were selected and the rest was eliminated, obtained and examined one by one to find the 3. For some models, questions were related research studies. While making this developed since there was not any Iiterature review, all of the misconception question measuring the corresponding models are determined and the questions are misconception model, examined. 4. In practical test, a battery and a bulb were The multiple-choice questions and used. Moreover, same type of bulbs and altematives were classified according to the batteries were used in all of the questions misconception models and then diagnostic test in order not to make the students was developed as explained before. Moreover, confused, four different forms of the same test were 5. In theoretical questions same type of prepared by changing the places of questions resistance and the power supplies were and altematives in order to get more accurate used with the same reason, results. This four form of diagnostic test was appIied on 76 ninth grade-Ievel students in the 6. In both practical and theoretical questions presence of the researcher and theyare told that the students were asked if the circuit scores of this test would not affect their physics would work, grades in the course. In the questionnaire each 7. The altematives indicated that the circuit studentwrote down birth-date,gender. . .etc. The would or would not work and gave subjects were given 40 minutes class hour for reasons that were consistent with one of completing the test. Af ter getting the data, the misconception modeL. diagnostic test and questionnaire of the each Students' practical and theoretical subject were scored and data table consisting of misconception scores were calculated gender, birth-date ete. was prepared. Statistical separately. In other words, each studenthas two analyses were carried out by using Excel and different scores, one of which belongs to the Statistical Package for Social Sciences. practical and the other one belongs to the theoretical part of the test. Moreover, these scores were calculated by giving i pointfor each 116 Selen Sancar - Elif Esra Yılmaz - Ali Eryılmaz [EdJ. 21 of 3. RESULTS theoretical ones. Only in the sixth and ninth 3.1. Deseriptive Statistics misconceptions, the percentages of the students' misconceptions in theoretical questions is Figure presents the categories of higher. For example, on practical part of the test, misconceptions and percent of students having 78 percentof the students thought that current these misconceptions. In that figure, ml flows in one direction but graduaJly weakens indicates the i st misconception ın the since each device uses up some of the cUlTenL introduction part and likewise m2, m3, m4, m5, On the other hand, only 49 percent of them m6, m7, m8, m9, mlü and mIl indicate the thought İn a same way İn theoretical part. Again, corresponding misconceptions in the while 60 percent of the students thought power introduction part. According to Figure ı, the supply as a constant CUlTent source on practical percentages of the students' misconceptions in part of the test only 28 percent of them thought practical questions are usually higher than the İn that manner on theoretical part. ı ı- 'U".T o, nu .0".' T.U. .1.co.c.,TlO.' ~~ ~ 0_.. o, ",..0..., i i ı i i i i ı ",. i 80 i i ,.,.,lIti ef i 'IItIıı4.nf:S ii...~i " .. !ii ;ıu."..ptt... ,. i " i ı '. i . '.1.. ,181 ml> m' _~-ı-,d mi m' m' i m" ---ı-.""'..: i I i .. .. _~__-ı---;3 st 18 _2~J 20 T ı .. .. 38 i 80 i i -+ i :~-.-; ------- " ~!-_-ı---!., .~~ ~J FIGURE 1: The results of student misconceptions in practical and theoretical questions Figure 2 presents the frequency analysis misconceptions on the other hand, in theoretical results of students' misconceptions in practical part of the test most of the students have four or and theoretical questions, in practical part of the five misconceptions. Briefly, it can be said that, test most of the students have five or six number of students having misconceptions on r-- li w ~ w i FreClutncle. ,fPr8ctlcaıa Ttı..retlC8IM Isc.ncepl18n8 i i i : i r 8 q !J 8 n tc ıe s 1 5 2 o , S 1. i i p · ra c tic a i 8 n d tn.or.lıeııl i i n u m b . r o i m LS c ' o n c e p i ıo n ~ ı-ı---ı- 1. i , i i , 2 1 a EP r. c tic 8 i ıClh.oreliCtI' 3 12 13 1 . 11 I i L FIGURE 2: Frequencies of students' misconceptions in practical and theoretical questions High School Students' Misconceptions About Simple Electric Circuits 117 practical part of the diagnostic test is more than gender difference on misconception scores the number of students having the same obtained from practical questions was misconception in theoretical part of the test. investigated. Table 2 indicated that with 74 Furthermore, there is no student having all of the degrees of freedom, the t value of 0.414 was not misconceptions at the same time and all students significant at 0.05level (p= 0.680) which means have at least one of the misconceptions. that there is no significant difference between Table 1 gives us the misconception scores of misconeeption scores of male and female both girl and boy students in theoretical and students in practical questions. practical questions. Although it seems that girls In asimilar way, gender difference in have more misconceptions than boys in the misconception scores obtained from theoretical practical questions while boys have more questions was also investigated by using t-test misconceptions than girls in theoretical for independent groups. The results are shown in questions, actually means for both male and Table 3. Table 3 indicated that with 74 degrees female students misconception scores are of freedom, the t value of 0.228 was not approximately the same. significant at 0.05 level (p= 0.820) which means that there is no significant difference between T ABLE 1: Descriptive statistics results for misconception scores of male and female gender difference in students' misconception in students in theoretical test questions. practical questions and in theoretical questions Group Slatiatlcs Students' experience scores were also SIıI. 5*1. Error examined with respeet to gender and as can be GENDER N Me8ı Devidon MII8II PRA_MIS 1 26 5.21 1.43 .28 seen from Table 4 with 73.877 degrees of 2 50 5.12 1.52 22 freedom, the t value of 0.102 was not significant TED_MIS 1 26 3.92 1.38 .27 2 50 4.00 1.40 .20 at 0.05 level (p=O.919) which means that there is no significant difference between experience 3.2. Inferential Statistics scores of male and female students. By using t-test for independent groups, firstly TABLE 2: Results for gender difference in students' misconceptions in practical questions _'_'root Lewne'sT..tor Eau8itv ot VWi-ıces t..st for ECL8tv of Me_ eonftd8nce ~'" lıWMi or ine ~Me", Std Error Ottfeıww;8 F s.ı t dı 12_1 Dı........,. l...- Dı.","",," L\>PO' """_MS E..... ..,..,., ..ıl ,.. !ıtO ......- 581 U 15 36 -51 81 - E~......n-ıc"not '22 53 58$ 61' 15 35 -56 86 TABLE 3: Results for gender difference in students' misconceptions in theoretical questions l........,i Testtor __root , ~Conftd8rıc. i,..,.,.. or tht sad Error Dı..."oe dı ~Me'" F Sia i 2.... Dıırw.nc. l...- ...... .........or<:es ,. Dı""""" '.0.,"' ......... 213 646 -226 820 -7,6QE.0:2 34 .75 S. EQUII_ nol -229 51285 820 .769E.a2 34 .75 60 as""'" .- T AB LE 4: Results for gender difference on experience score ı.,....'s Testfor __root EWliltv of v.~ t.test forEcı8itv ol Mea-ıs 96% Conndence Irt.,..,.ofthe Sog Meon Std Error Oirterence f SıQ. \ dt 12....! ()"efentO L...- 00.","",," ~E"PER 1:(JJ8I 'M181C8S .525 assuııod .348 04' 085 U 932 24 2J!J sn - E(J.III 'iIIIl8'1C8S nal: '02 73.871 9'9 24 231 ..'" 483 ı 18 Se/en Sancar - E/if Esra Yılmaz - Ali Eryılmaz [EdJ. 21 of As a result, independent t-test analyses show results showed the significant main effects for that there was no signifieant differenee between gender. Males (mean=18.1) did better on the practical misconception scores, theoretical post-test than did females (mean= 13 .7). misconception scores and experience scores in Generally the other researchers have reached the terms of gender. same results (Kahle and Meece, 1994; For the present study, bivariate correlational Shipstone, 1988). All these studies show that the analyses were used to find if there were female students' misconceptions are higher than significant correlations among the variables. the male students' misconceptions. Although According to Table 5, two correlation significant difference between male and female coefficients were found as statistically students' misconceptions could not be found in significant (practical misconception scores, this study, results are still consistent with the experience scores and practical misconception literature. it is expected to find significant scores, theoretical misconception scores). In difference between male and female students' other words, the students who have more misconception scores in simple electric circuits experience have few misconceptions in practical as a result of their different experiences. But, questions and the students who have since there is no significant experience misconceptions in practical questions have also difference between male and female students in misconceptions in theoretical questions. the study, it is not surprising to meet with such a resulL In a more brief way, it can be proposed TABLE 5: The correlations between the that, since there is no significant difference students' experience scores in the practical between males and females in terms of their questions and in theoretical questions experience levels, there is also no significant Correlations difference between their theoretical and EXPR PM MIS TEO MIS ~t:f( pearson eorr......on 1.000 -.269" -.061 practical misconception scores. Another reason Sig. (2-tailed) .014 .585 N 83 83 83 can be the applying the diagnostic test in PRA_MIS Pearson eorr.....Uon -.269" 1000 .421 Anatolian High School where the students are SIg. (2-tailed) .014 .000 N 83 83 83 accepted to the school through entrance TEO_MIS Pearson CorTeIıı.on -.061 .421 1.000 SIg. (2-1ailed) .585 .000 examination and special class of the public N 83 83 83 school where both gids' and boys' abilities are _ (2-_). '. CorreIa.on is sig-Oficanl at the 0.06 - correıa.on is si!1'ifiCant at 1he 0.01 _ (2-1ailed). close to each other. The theoretical questions cannot be 4. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS compared since the same kinds of questions In this study the effects of gender and were not used before. After analysing the data, it experience on students' misconceptions about was found that there is no difference between simple electric circuits were investigated. In the male and female students' misconception order to do this, initially, detailed literature scores in theoretical questions. review was made and eleven misconception Moreover, it can be easily seen from the categories were stated. Then, diagnostic test Figure i that generally, students' induding 13 practical and 8 theoretical misconceptions in the practical questions are q~~stions was developed. Af ter administering higher than the theoretical ones except the sixth this diagnostic test in anatolian and public high and ninth misconceptions. The reason is clear; schools to 76 students, the data were obtained when looked at the question related to sixth and and analysed. ninth misconceptions, it was realised that those Results related to practical questions can be questions are difficult to practice in daily life compared with the other studies; Chambers and therefore their values are close to each other. Andre (1995) have studied on this area and their In the light of the abave findings obtained by High School Students' Misconceptions About Simple Electric Circuits 119 statistical analyses, the following conclusions on practical questions and the ir can be deduced; experience. 1. There is no significant difference In addition to these, it was realised that, between male students' misconception students have considerable degree of scores obtained from practical questions misconceptions about simple electric circuits. and female students' misconception Actually all the instructors should be aware of scores obtained from practical questions. these misconceptions and try to remedy them 2. There is no significant difference since existing memories and information between male students' misconception influence the selection of stimuli, the attention scores obtained from theoretical given to stimuli and subsequent meaning questions and female students' generated from stimuli. More briefly, existing misconception scores obtained from concepts play an important role in determining theoretical questions. leaming outcomes because they provide the foundation for the construction of new 3. There is no significant difference information. Moreover, as a result of this study, between male students' experience it can be concluded that although many students scores and female students' experience can solve the theoretical questions, few are able scores. to solve practical ones requiring experience. 4. There is a significant relationship Thus, necessity of laboratory activities should between students' misconception scores also be taken into consideration. APPENDIX A An example from practical questions: An example from theoretical questions: 1. Şekilde görülen lamba yanar mı? 1. Şekilde görülen devredeki direnç üzerinden a. Evet, çünkü elektrik akımı pilin akım geçer mi? Ç) ucundan lambaya doğrudan a. Evet çünkü elektrik akımı güç geçebilir . kaynağından dirence doğrudan geçebilir . b. Evet, çünkü pil ile lamba arasındaki herhangi bir bağlantı G. b. Evet çünkü güç kaynağı ile lambanın yanmasını sağlar. direnç arasındaki herhangi bir c. Hayır, çünkü tel lambanın bağlantı dirençten akımın yanlış noktasına bağlanmış. geçmesini sağlar. d. Hayır, çünkü sistemden akım geçmez. c. Hayır çünkü tel dirence yanlış bağlanmış. e. Hayır, çünkü elektrik akımı lambanın bağlı d. Hayır çünkü devreden akım geçmez. olduğu uçtan değil diğerinden çıkar. e. Hayır çünkü elektrik akımı güç kaynağının f ................................ bağlı olduğu uçtan değil diğerinden çıkar. f . APPENDIX B Examples from experience scale: 1)Daha önce elektrik ile ilgili bir deney yaptınız bir 2)Dahaöncehiç pil ve tel kullanarak lamba mı? yakmayı denediniz mi? a. Hiç b. Nadiren c. Sık sık a. Hiç b. Nadiren c. Sık sık 3)Daha önce hiç elektrikli alet tamir etmeyi 4)Evinizde bozulan bir lambayı değiştirmeyi denediniz mi? denediniz mi? a. Hiç b. Nadiren c. Sık sık a. Hiç b. Nadiren c. Sık sık 120 Selen Sancar - Elif Esra Yılmaz - Ali Eryılmaz [EdJ. 21 of REFERENCES Edueation, 29(3): 259-276. (1992) [ı] Chambers, S.K. and Andre, T. 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