Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form


Li, Jing (2012) IMPROVING STUDENTS’ UNDERSTANDING OF ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (5MB) | Preview


Electricity and magnetism are important topics in physics. Research shows that students have many common difficulties in understanding concepts related to electricity and magnetism. However, research to improve students’ understanding of electricity and magnetism is limited compared to introductory mechanics. This thesis explores issues related to students’ common difficulties in learning some topics in electricity and magnetism and how these difficulties can be reduced by research-based learning tutorials. We investigated students’ difficulties in solving problems involving light bulbs and equations involving circuit elements. We administered multiple choice questions and essay questions to many classes and conducted individual interviews with a subset of students. Based on these investigations, we provide suggestions to improve learning. We also developed and evaluated five tutorials on Coulomb’s law, Gauss’s law and the superposition principle to help students build a robust knowledge structure and firm understanding of these concepts. Students’ performance on the corresponding pre- and post-tests indicates that these tutorials effectively improved their understanding. We also designed a Magnetism Conceptual Survey (MCS) that can help instructors probe students’ understanding of magnetism concepts. The validity and reliability of this MCS is discussed. The performance of students from different groups (e.g. female students vs. male students, calculus-based students vs. algebra-based students) was compared. We also compare the MCS and the Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism (CSEM) on common topics.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Li, Jingjil69@pitt.eduJIL69
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSingh, Chandralekhaclsingh@pitt.eduCLSINGH
Committee MemberClark, Russellruc2@pitt.eduRUC2
Committee MemberShuman, LarryShuman@pitt.eduSHUMAN
Committee MemberJohnsen, Rainerrj@pitt.eduRJ
Committee MemberKosowsky, Arthurkosowsky@pitt.eduKOSOWSKY
Date: 28 June 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 20 March 2012
Approval Date: 28 June 2012
Submission Date: 9 April 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 273
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Physics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Electricity and magnetism, concepts, light bulbs, circuit elements, coulomb's law, Gauss's law, magnetism conceptual survey
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2012 20:48
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:57


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item