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Understanding phase as a key concept in physics and electrical engineering
Linköping University, Department of Science and Technology, Physics and Electronics. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology. (Ingenjörsvetenskapens didaktik)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7708-069X
Ingenjörshögskolan, Jönköping, Sweden.
ESIME, Instituto Politechnico Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico.
2013 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In electrical engineering as well as in physics it is crucial to understand that the phase, and not only magnitudes, of signals such as AC-currents and voltages or light matters. In a preliminary study (Bernhard & Carstensen, 2002) we found difficulties in understanding phase relationships (cf. Kautz, 2011; Mazzolini, Scott, & Edwards, 2012) and in modeling (cf. Carstensen & Bernhard, 2008; Foley, 2010). In electrical engineering and in physics complex numbers open up for “new and previously inaccessible way of thinking” and representing phase relationships and in an earlier work we have shown that understanding complex numbers opens up for “seeing things in a new way” (Bernhard, Carstensen, & Holmberg, 2008). In this paper we will present a study using questionnaires and interviews with second and third year electrical engineering that shows that for most students phase relationships and the use of complex numbers (phasors) in representing signals still are troublesome knowledge and that most students are in a liminal space. Without understanding the concept of phase students would face immense problems in understanding for example electric circuits or optics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
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URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-94624OAI: diva2:633691
4th NNEER seminar - Nordic Network in Engineering Education Research, May 23-24, 2013, Gothenburg, Sweden
Swedish Research Council, 721-2011-5570
Available from: 2013-06-27 Created: 2013-06-27 Last updated: 2013-09-12Bibliographically approved

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