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ALLAIN, RHETT. Investigating the Relationship Between Student Difficulties with the Concept of Electric Potential and the Concept of Rate of Change. (Under the direction of Robert J. Beichner)
 

Summary: ABSTRACT
ALLAIN, RHETT. Investigating the Relationship Between Student Difficulties with the Concept of
Electric Potential and the Concept of Rate of Change. (Under the direction of Robert J. Beichner)
An important aspect of curricula development is not only understanding what difficulties students
have but also, why they have these difficulties. The purpose of this study was to investigate the
possibility that students have difficulty with the concept of electric potential because they have
difficulty with the concept of rate of change. The study sample consisted of over 300 students
from various colleges and universities.
To investigate this relationship, I created a diagnostic instrument that contains 14 items on rate of
change and 11 items on electric potential this is the Rate And Potential Test (RAPT). These
items were taken from other diagnostic instruments or modified from questions used in other
research studies. I also conducted think-aloud interviews to insure that students were interpreting
the items correctly.
My findings can be broken into two areas. The first area deals with findings about the relationship
between student difficulties with rate of change and electric potential. The second area of
findings deals with the appropriateness of the RAPT for investigating this relationship. I found
that there is a correlation between the way students answer rate of change items and the way
they answer electric potential items. I also found that some students in upper-level
undergraduate courses made mistakes similar to introductory students. The RAPT was found to
be a reliable (KR20 = 0.83) instrument and it did not matter if it was given on paper or via

  

Source: Allain, Rhett - Department of Chemistry and Physics, Southeastern Louisiana University

 

Collections: Multidisciplinary Databases and Resources; Physics