The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Technical-Vocational Education (TVE) High School Students’ Conceptual Understanding and Mental Models about Electric Circuits

Voltaire Mistades, De La Salle University (Philippines)

Jasmin Eléna Orolfo, 1st Jude Catholic School (Philippines)


The study investigated the robust conceptions of Technical-Vocational Education (TVE) high school students about electric circuits to identify their mental models and to enumerate the teaching and learning implications of these conceptions and mental models.   Using a descriptive design in snapshot approach, one hundred and ninety-five (195) students, specializing in Electrical Installation and Maintenance (EIM) from Grade 8 (n=88), Grade 9 (n=88), Grade 10 (n=4), and Grade 11 (n=15), took the diagnostic test Determining the Resistive Electric Circuits Concepts Test (DIRECT) [1]. Interview was used as follow-up tool to qualitatively assess the students’ reasoning. The results were interpreted using both quantitative and qualitative analysis. The study showed that majority of the students have misconceptions and incomplete conceptions about electric circuits and the elements that make a circuit work. While they showed familiarity with actual circuit elements, they lacked familiarity with the symbols used in an electric circuit.  The TVE students had varied understanding about how energy flows in an electric circuit. Some students subscribed to the Unipolar Model [2,3], the idea that electrical energy flows from the negative terminal only. The Bipolar Model [2,3] was also present among the students, with the students describing the current from the positive terminal moving faster than the current that flows out of the negative terminal. The students' self-constructed idea about what happens when the energy reaches the load is analogous to a two-way traffic model. In teaching the TVE high school students, there is a need to reinforce their technical learning by acquiring conceptual understanding of electric circuits in their Physics classes.

Keywords: Technical Vocational Education, conceptual understanding, mental models, electricity, electric circuits, high school students.


  1. Engelhardt, P. V., & Beichner, R. J. (2004). “Students’ understanding of direct current resistive electrical circuits”. American Journal of Physics, 72, 98-115. doi:10.1119/1.1614813
  2. Isola, A.C., "Students' Mental Models of Electricity in Simple DC Circuits" (1999). Dissertations. 3249.
  3. Shipstone, D. M., Rhöneck, C.V., Kärrqvist, C., Dupin, J., Joshua, S. & Licht, P. (1988). “A study of students’ understanding of electricity in five European countries”. International Journal of Science Education, 10(3), 303-316.

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