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Title: Student learning of the concepts of capacitance, inductance, and electromagnetism
Author: Cowan, Leslie
ISNI:       0000 0001 3391 1984
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1987
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This study, influenced by an interest in the history of electricity, explores the problems which many students experience in understanding the phenomena of capacitance, inductance, and electromagnetism related to motors and generators. Interviews were conducted with school pupils, vocational students at technical colleges, and university/polytechnic students in their first two terms of degree courses. Interviewees were encouraged to speak of their difficulties encountered during electrical studies. The conversation was guided towards a prepared framework of questions, supplemented by a number of drawings and diagrams, which were used to probe the students' familiarity with the phenomena and concepts associated with them. The interviews were tape-recorded, and analysed with a view to determining the reasons for the learners' difficulties. Following an introduction commenting on the need for this research, there is a chapter concerned with the pioneers whose discoveries laid the foundations for capacitive and inductive Knowledge. Then follows a chapter which considers some of the principal writings of the distinguished early electricians and electrical educators, with a survey of important textbooks for the three classes of learners. The next chapters give extracts from the interviews, and discuss the data obtained. An important conclusion is that the majority of students of electricity fall into two distinct categories: "Visualizers" and "Mathematics", and that difficulties can arise when the needs of each are not well served by the instruction received or the textbooks used. Misunderstandings at an early stage of electrical education can be carried forward to higher education. In the final chapter recommendations are made for improving the opportunities which could be given to both "Visualizers" and "Mathematics" to master the electrical fundamentals - these include the study of neglected historical texts, and the repetition of pioneers' original experiments.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Student electrical education