Date: 22 Mar 2014

ANALYSIS OF ARGUMENTS CONSTRUCTED BY FIRST-YEAR ENGINEERING STUDENTS ADDRESSING ELECTROMAGNETIC INDUCTION PROBLEMS

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ABSTRACT

This study explored the quality of arguments used by first-year engineering university students enrolled in a traditional physics course dealing with electromagnetic induction and related problem solving where they had to assess whether the electromagnetic induction phenomenon would occur. Their conclusions were analyzed for the relevance of the laws and principles they had considered when coming to a conclusion (conceptual relevance) and the quality of the evidence and whether their conclusions were validated by the consistency of their reasoning (sufficiency of the reasoning). The most remarkable findings revealed emerging deficiencies linked to the fact that, when considering the evidence, in most cases, students do not reason the relationship between the evidence and the conclusion properly and they used only the Faraday Law. Implications for teaching, based on the results of this study, suggest that instruction should consider both the Faraday’s and Lorentz Force Laws when trying to calculate the magnetic flow variation through the area swept by the conductor. Furthermore, considerations should explore both laws as equivalent and the need to develop a reasoned justification for their conclusions using the appropriate foundation.