Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Education

First Advisor

Ruth A Streveler

Committee Member 1

Cordelia Brown

Committee Member 2

Monica Cardella

Committee Member 3

Morgan Hynes

Committee Member 4

Karl Smith


Research focused on increasing students’ conceptual understanding of electric circuits discuss this concept as difficult to not only teach but for students to grasp. This difficulty has been attributed to the fact that students tend to hold inaccurate pre-conceptions of electricity which becomes problematic as the level of complexity increases from the most basic to more advanced circuit concepts. The combination of inaccurate and inadequate prior knowledge has the potential to prevent students from being able to assimilate new material they come in contact with when instructed about electric circuit concepts in formal settings. Often times, students’ inability to associate this new concept with correct pre-existing conception or prior knowledge leads to the development of misconceptions about the nature of electricity. With these issues in mind, this study focused on exploring undergraduate engineering students’ conceptual understanding of electric circuits through an investigation of three interconnected areas. The overall purpose of this study was to give a descriptive account of learning complex circuits.