Dounas-Frazer, Van De Bogart, Stetzer, and Lewandowski on troubleshooting in electronics labs

Dmitri R. Dounas-Frazer, Kevin L. Van De Bogart, MacKenzie R. Stetzer, and H. J. Lewandowski

The role of modeling in troubleshooting: An example from electronics

2015 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
Published Dec 18, 2015

Troubleshooting systems is integral to experimental physics in both research and instructional laboratory settings. The recently adopted AAPT Lab Guidelines identify troubleshooting as an important learning outcome of the undergraduate laboratory curriculum. We investigate students' model-based reasoning on a troubleshooting task using data collected in think-aloud interviews during which pairs of students attempted to diagnose and repair a malfunctioning circuit. Our analysis scheme is informed by the Experimental Modeling Framework (EMF), which describes physicists' use of mathematical and conceptual models when reasoning about experimental systems. We show how students' work on a troubleshooting task can be mapped onto the EMF.