At a Glance

Discipline

  • Physics

Instructional Level

  • College & CEGEP

Course

  • NYB Electricity and Magnetism

Tasks in Workflow

Social Plane(s)

  • Group

Type of Tasks

  • Discussing
  • Analyzing

Technical Details

Class size

  • Small (20-49)

Time

Single class period (< 90 mins)

Purpose

  • Review & consolidation

Overview

In this activity, students work in groups to sort cards containing different circuit diagrams, graphs, words, and other representations for RC, LR, and LC circuits. The aim is for students to develop their model-building skills by focusing on abstract concepts, making connections between these concepts, and using multiple representations. The review reinforces students' ability to 1) represent charge, current, and potential difference and link them to the behaviour of circuits, 2) see connections between quantities (e.g. ∆V and I), 3) reason conceptually without relying on equations, 4) understand the roles of resistors, capacitors, and inductors.

The activity is an example of an active-learning, ...

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In this activity, students work in groups to sort cards containing different circuit diagrams, graphs, words, and other representations for RC, LR, and LC circuits. The aim is for students to develop their model-building skills by focusing on abstract concepts, making connections between these concepts, and using multiple representations. The review reinforces students' ability to 1) represent charge, current, and potential difference and link them to the behaviour of circuits, 2) see connections between quantities (e.g. ∆V and I), 3) reason conceptually without relying on equations, 4) understand the roles of resistors, capacitors, and inductors.

The activity is an example of an active-learning, collaborative group-based pedagogy. After groups are formed, the activity begins with the instructor explaining how to set up the circuit situations with an example. The instructor then has students set up the other situations using select initial cards, describing in each case: 1) the direction of the current through the resistor and 2) whether the circuit is storing/releasing energy or oscillating with provided word cards. Once the setups are complete, the instructor distributes the remainder of the cards and the groups determine those that correspond to each setup, sorting them appropriately. Each group then pairs with another to compare their solutions and discuss, after which the instructor briefly wraps up the session.

The only additional materials are the cards required for the activity, which must be printed by the instructor in advance, as well as the detailed teacher guide for the activity (included in "additional materials").

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Instructional Objectives

Students will develop their ability to reason about physics concepts in terms of multiple representations (beyond just using equations).

Workflow & Materials

Activity Workflow

Download

Class Instructions

Instructor Presentation

Download

Class Review

Instructor Presentation

Download

Circuits: Card Sorting With Multiple Representations

Link to CourseFlow Tool

Link

Contributor's Notes

Benefits

  • It helps students make and understand the connections between various course concepts.
  • It provides students with means of checking if their problem solutions physically make sense.
  • Students get highly engaged with the activity and in collaborating with each other by virtue of its game-like element.

Challenges

  • Designing appropriate sets of cards for applying the activity to a new topic may take a significant amount of time.
  • Preparing (cutting out) even pre-existing card-sorting materials for the first time may be time consuming.

Tips

  • Communicating the instructions of the activity very clearly to students and structuring the activity so as to not overwhelm students (as per the instructor guide) is key.
  • There is no need to spend too much time reviewing at the end of the activity since students will have just worked through things and already have developed a solid understanding as well as be mentally fatigued.