Research in Science Education

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 73–89 | Cite as

Teaching Electric Circuits: Teachers’ Perceptions and Learners’ Misconceptions

  • Kimera MoodleyEmail author
  • Estelle Gaigher


An exploratory case study involving six grade 9 science teachers was undertaken to probe how teachers’ understanding of learners’ misconceptions relate to their perceptions about teaching simple circuits. The participants’ understanding of documented misconceptions in electricity were explored by means of a questionnaire, while their perceptions about teaching electric circuits were also explored in the questionnaire, followed by a semi-structured interview. Results were analysed using content analysis and interpreted using pedagogical content knowledge as a theoretical lens. The results indicated that understanding learners’ misconceptions did not always correlate with conceptual perceptions about teaching electric circuits. While fair understanding of misconceptions was demonstrated by teachers who studied Physics at undergraduate level, only those who also held qualifications in Education showed conceptual perceptions about teaching electricity. Teachers who did not study Science Education revealed technical perceptions, focused on facts, demonstrations and calculations. From these results, a developmental model for pedagogical content knowledge was proposed. It was recommended that teacher education programs should involve misconceptions and also facilitate the development of conceptual perceptions about teaching.


Electric circuits Misconceptions Teacher perceptions Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) 



The authors acknowledge the financial assistance of the National Research Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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