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Leading policy makers and researchers of the National Academy of Engineering agreed that the teaching of STEM disciplines in the U.S. schools must be improved. “The focus on STEM education is closely related to concerns about U.S. competitiveness in the global economy and about the development of a workforce with the knowledge and skills to address technical and technological issues” . Analyzing the academic success of engineering students, previous research  shows that even high-performance students after four years of college instruction still continue to hold significant misconceptions about scientific concepts and have incorrect interpretations of phenomena (like electricity, force, light). This paper is based on the dissertation research that focuses on the analysis of students' misconceptions about electricity. It represents a unique synthesis of methods from educational research and cognitive psychology applied to the population of Electrical Engineering Technology students. Misconceptions about electrical concepts of freshmen will be analyzed and compared to the misconceptions of seniors. The goals of this research target: (1) understanding how student mental models and misconceptions change with increasing levels of competency and expertise during their progression from freshmen to senior levels and (2) investigating the correlation between student academic success and their misconceptions.
Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), 2011
Date of Conference: 12-15 Oct. 2011