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Title page for ETD etd-07182006-085539

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Holton, Douglas Lee
URN etd-07182006-085539
Title Enactive Modeling as a Catalyst for Conceptual Understanding: An Example with a Circuit Simulation
Degree PhD
Department Teaching and Learning
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Robert Sherwood Committee Chair
Gautam Biswas Committee Member
Paul Cobb Committee Member
Sean Brophy Committee Member
  • circuit simulation
  • electrical circuit
  • simulation
  • conceptual change
  • enactive learning
  • embodied cognition
  • learning sciences
  • science education
  • force feedback
  • haptic
  • capacitor
  • inductor
  • frequency
  • AC circuit
Date of Defense 2006-05-16
Availability unrestricted
This research explored how allowing students to actively control an electrical circuit simulation in real-time helps them better understand the complex behavior of electrical circuits. Many students, even at the college level, have misconceptions about electricity that make the subject more difficult to teach and learn via traditional methods such as lecture or textbooks. In this study, students used a unique real-time control interface to an animated circuit simulation in order to enactively model how an AC voltage source controls the current flow in a circuit. In enactive modeling, the student is an agent participating in the behavior of a dynamic system and is controlling one or more temporal aspects of the changes occurring in the system. After only a 30 minute tutoring session with the circuit simulation, students significantly gained in their understanding of some difficult concepts about circuit behavior, as measured by a multiple choice conceptual test. In particular there was evidence that students were able to overcome common misconceptions about the temporal behavior and flow of electrical current.
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