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Students are taught several models of conductivity, both at the introductory and the advanced level. From early macroscopic models of current flow in circuits, through the discussion of microscopic particle descriptions of electrons flowing in an atomic lattice, to the development of microscopic nonlocalized band diagram descriptions in advanced physics courses, they need to be able to distinguish between commonly used, though sometimes contradictory, physical models. In investigations of student reasoning about models of conduction, we find that students often are unable to account for the existence of free electrons in a conductor and create models that lead to incorrect predictions and responses contradictory to expert descriptions of the physics. We have used these findings as a guide to creating curriculum materials that we show can be effective helping students to apply the different conduction models more effectively.
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