Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Curriculum & Instruction


Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Gill, Ivan

Second Advisor

Germain-McCarthy, Yvelyne

Third Advisor

Thoreson, Amy Claire

Fourth Advisor

Seab, C. Greg

Fifth Advisor

Kieff, Judith


The purpose of this study is to inform instruction by increasing the body of knowledge regarding the relationship between college physics students' knowledge about models in science and their conceptual understanding with regard to electricity and magnetism. The data for this study was obtained through the administration of two instruments: Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism, a multiple choice assessment, and Student Understanding of Models in Science, a Likert-scale survey. Both traditional statistics and an innovative technique called Model Analysis were used to analyze the data. Analysis of the data revealed that there is a relationship between student understanding of models in science and conceptual understanding of electricity and magnetism topics. However, the results of this study also suggest that without specific instruction on models in science, overall understanding of models in science does not improve after a traditional electricity and magnetism course. Additionally, this study demonstrated that not only does student conceptual understanding of electricity and magnetism topics improve after a traditionally taught electricity and magnetism course, but also, students demonstrate more sophistication in their understanding of some electricity and magnetism topics. In the latter case, students showed improvement in their application of the expert rather than the naïve or null model of electricity and magnetism topics.


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