Developing & assessing students’ conceptual understanding of static electricity at second level

Dates Active: 2013 - 2018
Project Members:

Richard Moynihan, Eilish McLoughlin, Paul van Kampen

An overview of research and national statistics shows that students experience difficulties in static electricity. Our research identified different elements that students in order to gain a complete understanding of the leaving certificate static electricity topics. Some of these elements are embedded in their mathematics courses, while other required are not. These are vector addition (in one and two dimensions) field line representation and exploring the inverse square law. In our research, we developed a series of tutorial style lessons, consisting of a pretest, a brief plenary, a class worksheet completed in groups, a homework worksheet and a posttest. All of the three elements were covered separately during the mechanics section, and directly reference the tutorials based on Coulomb’s Law, Electric field and Potential difference. This allows us to assess student learning of these elements as they learn them, and in the context of static electricity. This can be used to identify opportunities for further research in related topics.