Asee peer logo

Students’ Abilities to Solve RC Circuits with Research-based Educational Strategies

Download Paper |


2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics and Physics

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Genaro Zavala Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico and Universidad Andres Bello, Santiago, Chile Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Genaro Zavala is a Full Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies of the School of Engineering and Sciences at Tecnologico de Monterrey. Professor Zavala is National Researcher Level 1 of the National System of Researchers of Mexico and leads the Physics Education Research and Innovation Group. He works with the following research lines: conceptual understanding of students on subjects of physics, transfer of understanding between the different areas of knowledge, use of technology in learning, the impact of using innovative learning environments and development of assessment tools. He has 92 articles in refereed journals and conferences, over 680 citations according to Scopus, 6 books, 14 book chapters, 142 national and international presentations in countries like Korea, Denmark, Hungary, Cuba, United States, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, Colombia and Argentina and 29 international workshops in Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Italy. Genaro Zavala was appointed to the editorial board of the Physical Review Special Topics-Physics Education Research journal of the American Physical Society for the period 2015 to 2018, vice president of the Latin American Physics Education Network (LAPEN) for the period 2013-2015 and is currently the coordinator of the Topical Group: Evaluation of Learning and Instruction of the International Group for Research and Teaching of Physics (GIREP by its French acronym). Dr. Zavala is a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) where he was vice president candidate, a member of the Committee on Research in Physics Education (RIPE) a member and chair of the International Education Committee and elected member of Leadership Organizing Physics Education Research Council (PERLOC ) in the period 2015-2018.

visit author page


Carlos Eduardo Martinez-Torteya Tecnologico de Monterrey

visit author page

Carlos Martinez-Torteya is an Adjunct Professor at the School of Engineering and Sciences at Tecnologico de Monterrey, where he teaches undergraduate Physics ranging from freshmen courses to upper-level electives in Particle Physics and General Relativity. Carlos holds a B.Sc. in Physics Engineering from Tecnologico de Monterrey, and a M.A. in Physics from SUNY Stony Brook, where he focused in Theoretical Particle Physics. Currently, his research interests are in Physics Education.

visit author page

Download Paper |


One of the main research lines of Physics Education Research is students’ conceptual understanding. Since the ’70s, that line of research has produced not only research papers but also educational material that helps instructors teach physics in a coherent and structured way so that students can understand physics better. We have applied several of these research-based materials in our electricity and magnetism course for physics engineering students and have obtained good results regarding learning gain measured by some standard tests. In this paper, we focus on the effect of students’ understanding of physics concepts on their problem-solving ability from a quantitative perspective. We chose RC circuits given the lack of time devoted to problem-solving in the class on this topic. The results indicate that even though students understand basic concepts such as potential difference, current, capacitance, and resistance, they struggle when trying to apply those concepts to solving RC circuits problems. On the other hand, we also show that students with good quantitative results, at the same time, have good qualitative results.

Zavala, G., & Martinez-Torteya, C. E. (2019, June), Students’ Abilities to Solve RC Circuits with Research-based Educational Strategies Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33312

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015