Technological literacy learning with cumulative and stepwise integration of equations into electrical circuit diagrams

Gamze Ozogul, Amy Johnson, Roxana Moreno, Martin Reisslein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Technological literacy education involves the teaching of basic engineering principles and problem solving, including elementary electrical circuit analysis, to non-engineering students. Learning materials on circuit analysis typically rely on equations and schematic diagrams, which are often unfamiliar to non-engineering students. The goal of this experimental study was to investigate the effects of the integration of equations into circuit diagrams on the learning of non-engineering undergraduate students. This experimental study compared three integration designs. In the cumulative integrated design, as each practice problem solution progressed, the equations were cumulatively integrated into the circuit diagram. In the stepwise integrated design, only those equations relevant to the present step of the problem were integrated into the circuit diagram; previously displayed equations were moved to an adjacent frame and recorded there. The nonintegrated design recorded all equations in the adjacent frame throughout each of the problems. Student learning was measured with a problem-solving near-transfer and far-transfer post-test. Students rated the helpfulness of the diagrams and difficulty of the instructional program. Results indicated that participants in the cumulative integrated condition scored significantly higher on the near-transfer post-test and marginally significantly higher on the far-transfer post-test compared to the stepwise and nonintegrated conditions. Findings indicate that circuit analysis instruction for non-engineering students should integrate equations into circuit diagrams in a cumulative fashion so as to avoid the split-attention effect for both the previously displayed equations as well as the equations for the present problem step.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-487
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Diagram-equation integration
  • Electrical circuit analysis
  • Spatial contiguity
  • Technological literacy education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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