Bayraktar - IJSME 2008

Misconceptions of Turkish Pre-Service Teachers about Force and Motion
IJSME online first publication

Sule Bayraktar

The purpose of this study was to diagnose the misconceptions held by pre-service physics teachers about force and motion. The secondary aim of the study was to detect whether misconceptions vary according to gender, educational level, and culture. The study was conducted with 79 student-teachers attending to one of the largest faculties of education in Turkey. Force Concept Inventory (FCI) was used to diagnose student-teachers’ misconceptions. FCI is a conceptual test consisting of 29 multiple choice items. Each wrong choice for each question reflects a specific misconception about the force and motion concepts. Data from the study was analyzed by using frequencies, t-test, and ANOVA for making comparisons according to gender and years of education. Results of the study showed that student-teachers of physics hold very strong misconceptions about impetus and active force. No significant differences were found between male and female students’ scores on the concept test. The results also showed that misconceptions about force and motion decreased through the years of education. However, they did not disappear completely. Findings of the study are very similar to the other research findings conducted on the subject in other countries. Student-teachers’ conceptions about Newton’s Third Law, on the other hand, were significantly better than those observed in other research done in other countries such as the US and Finland

McKagan Perkins Wieman - arxiv.org 2008

This paper has been updated, click here for PRST-PER publication.

A Deeper Look at Student Learning of Quantum Mechanics: the Case of Tunneling

S. B. McKagan, K. K. Perkins, and C. E. Wieman

We report on a qualitative study of student learning of quantum tunneling in traditional and reformed modern physics courses. In the reformed courses, which were designed to address student difficulties found in previous research, students still struggle with many of the same issues found in other courses, but the reasons for these difficulties are more subtle, and many new issues are brought to the surface. By explicitly discussing how to build models of potential energy and relate these models to real physical systems, we have opened up a floodgate of deep and difficult questions as students struggle to make sense of these models. We conclude that the difficulties found in previous research are the tip of the iceberg, and the real issue at the heart of student difficulties in learning quantum tunneling is the struggle to build the complex models that are implicit in experts' understanding but often not discussed explicitly with students.

License: http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

Redish Smith - arxiv.org 2008

Looking Beyond Content: Skill development for engineers
Edward F. Redish and Karl A. Smith

Current concerns over reforming engineering education have focused attention on helping students develop skills and an adaptive expertise. Phenomenological guidelines for instruction along these lines can be understood as arising out of an emerging theory of thinking and learning built on results in the neural, cognitive, and behavioral sciences. We outline this framework and consider some of its implications for one example: developing a more detailed understanding of the specific skill of using mathematics in modeling physical situations. This approach provides theoretical underpinnings for some best-practice instructional methods designed to help students develop this skill and provides guidance for further research in the area.

License: http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/


Singh - AJP 2008

Student understanding of quantum mechanics at the beginning of graduate instruction
American Journal of Physics -- March 2008 -- Volume 76, Issue 3, pp. 277-287

Chandralekha Singh

A survey was developed to probe student understanding of quantum mechanics at the beginning of graduate instruction. The survey was administered to 202 physics graduate students enrolled in first-year quantum mechanics courses from seven universities at the beginning of the first semester. We also conducted one-on-one interviews with fifteen graduate or advanced undergraduate students who had just completed a course in which all the content on the survey was covered. Although students from some universities performed better on average than others, we found that students share universal difficulties understanding the concepts of quantum mechanics. The difficulties were often due to overgeneralizations of concepts learned in one context to other contexts where they are not directly applicable. Difficulties in distinguishing between closely related concepts and making sense of the formalism of quantum mechanics were common. The results of this study can sensitize instructors of first-year graduate quantum physics to some of the difficulties students are likely to face.


Hsu - Science Education 2008

Learning about seasons in a technologically enhanced environment: The impact of teacher-guided and student-centered instructional approaches on the process of students' conceptual change
Sci Ed 92:320-344, 2008

Ying-Shao Hsu

To explore the ways in which teacher-guided and student-centered instructional approaches influence students' conceptual understanding of seasonal change, we designed a technology-enhanced learning (TEL) course to compare, by means of concept maps, the learning outcome of students in two groups: a teacher-guided (TG) class (with whole-class presentations) and a student-centered (SC) class (with individual online learning). The participants were two classes of second-year senior high school students in Taiwan. Overall, the results showed that most students developed a deep and accessible understanding of the reasons for the seasons after undergoing experiences provided by the TEL course. More importantly, it was found that, in this technologically enhanced environment, the student-centered approach was more effective than the teacher-guided approach in altering students' alternative conceptions of seasonal change (F = 28.05, p < 0.001). The conceptual evolution of students in the two groups was plotted and compared. These plots indicated that, first of all, the cognitive processes of contextualization and sense making helped students re-examine their old ideas about the phenomena, leading them to generate alternative conceptions and undergo both positive and negative conceptual change. The student-centered approach allows students to more freely test their own hypotheses in the processes of exploration and modeling, and thus move from assimilatory to properly scientific explanations. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
DOI: 10.1002/sce.20242 About DOI

SharmaA - Science Education 2008

Making (electrical) connections: Exploring student agency in a school in India
Sci Ed 92:297-319, 2008

Ajay Sharma

Students studying in government-run schools in rural India possess much experiential knowledge of the world around them. This paper presents a narrative account of an ethnographic exploration of such students as they attempted to learn about electricity in an eighth-grade classroom in a government-run schools in a village in India. The paper shows how students having a rich experience with household electric circuits attempt, in a contingent and situated manner, to negotiate their role as students and participate in the school science discourse. The students' actions expressed agency that was contingent, situated, and aimed at selective appropriation of school science discourse for their own purposes. Such expressions of student agency indicate rich possibilities for meaningful learning of science in rural schools in India provided school science is made relevant for their lives and concerns. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

DOI: 10.1002/sce.20246

Basu - Science Education 2008

Powerful learners and critical agents: The goals of five urban Caribbean youth in a conceptual physics classroom
Sci Ed 92:252-277, 2008

Sreyashi Jhumki Basu

Youth from low-income, minority backgrounds have often been marginalized from introductory courses, advanced study and careers in physics. Cultivating student agency may have the potential to improve access for diverse groups of learners. However, the implications of this lens for student learning have been minimally examined in the physics education literature. In this ethnographic study situated in a ninth-grade conceptual physics classroom, I discuss students' critical goals - the intentions, motivations, and desires for change that youth held. These critical goals were related to learning, voice, and participation in relationships and the world. I also describe how student goals demonstrate the idea of critical subject-matter agency in physics: students positioning themselves as powerful learners envisioning subject knowledge as a tool for change in their own lives and world. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

DOI: 10.1002/sce.20241

Arzi White - Science Education 2008

Change in teachers' knowledge of subject matter: A 17-year longitudinal study
Sci Ed 92:221-251, 2008

Hanna J. Arzi, Richard T. White

This longitudinal study explored change in teachers' knowledge of subjects they teach from preservice training through 17 years of professional experience. It followed secondary school science teachers in Australia, through sequences of individual interviews in which change in content knowledge (mainly energy-related) was probed primarily via concept profiles - a word-association method. Change was found to be multifaceted, with details of unused content fading from memory, alongside growth that results from improved understanding and reorganization of structure more than from accretion of new material. Across personal and professional life tracks that produce variation between individuals, development is facilitated by critical mass of teachers' knowledge and interest in their chosen disciplines of study and certification, whereas deficiencies tend to persist in the other subjects they are asked to teach. The required curriculum is the single most powerful determinant of teacher knowledge, serving as both its organizer and source. Based on the study, a three-phase model of teacher content-knowledge development is proposed, and the discussion highlights the need for career-long support for growth, even in teachers' major subjects where expertise is taken for granted. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

DOI: 10.1002/sce.20239


Lee Palazzo Warnakulasooriya Pritchard - Phys Rev 2008

Measuring student learning with item response theory
Young-Jin Lee, David J. Palazzo, Rasil Warnakulasooriya, and David E. Pritchard

We investigate short-term learning from hints and feedback in a Web-based physics tutoring system. Both the skill of students and the difficulty and discrimination of items were determined by applying item response theory (IRT) to the first answers of students who are working on for-credit homework items in an introductory Newtonian physics course. We show that after tutoring a shifted logistic item response function with lower discrimination fits the students’ second responses to an item previously answered incorrectly. Student skill decreased by 1.0 standard deviation when students used no tutoring between their (incorrect) first and second attempts, which we attribute to “item-wrong bias.” On average, using hints or feedback increased students’ skill by 0.8 standard deviation. A skill increase of 1.9 standard deviation was observed when hints were requested after viewing, but prior to attempting to answer, a particular item. The skill changes measured in this way will enable the use of IRT to assess students based on their second attempt in a tutoring environment.

©2008 The American Physical Society

URL: http://link.aps.org/abstract/PRSTPER/v4/e010102
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.4.010102


Dori Sasson - JRST 2008

Chemical understanding and graphing skills in an honors case-based computerized chemistry laboratory environment: The value of bidirectional visual and textual representations
J Res Sci Teach 45: 219-250, 2008.

Yehudit J. Dori, Irit Sasson
email: yidori@technion.ac.il

The case-based computerized laboratory (CCL) is a chemistry learning environment that integrates computerized experiments with emphasis on scientific inquiry and comprehension of case studies. The research objective was to investigate chemical understanding and graphing skills of high school honors students via bidirectional visual and textual representations in the CCL learning environment. The research population of our 3-year study consisted of 857 chemistry 12th grade honors students from a variety of high schools in Israel. Pre- and postcase-based questionnaires were used to assess students' graphing and chemical understanding-retention skills. We found that students in the CCL learning environment significantly improved their graphing skills and chemical understanding-retention in the post- with respect to the prequestionnaires. Comparing the experimental students to their non-CCL control peers has shown that CCL students had an advantage in graphing skills. The CCL contribution was most noticeable for experimental students of relatively low academic level who benefit the most from the combination of visual and textual representations. Our findings emphasize the educational value of combining the case-based method with computerized laboratories for enhancing students' chemistry understanding and graphing skills, and for developing their ability to bidirectionally transfer between textual and visual representations.

© 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Received: 4 December 2005; Revised: 24 December 2006; Accepted: 29 December 2006

DOI: 10.1002/tea.20197 About DOI

Potgieter Harding Engelbrecht - JRST 2008

Transfer of algebraic and graphical thinking between mathematics and chemistry
J Res Sci Teach 45: 197-218, 2008.

Marietjie Potgieter, Ansie Harding, Johann Engelbrecht
email: jengelbr@up.ac.za

Students in undergraduate chemistry courses find, as a rule, topics with a strong mathematical basis difficult to master. In this study we investigate whether such mathematically related problems are due to deficiencies in their mathematics foundation or due to the complexity introduced by transfer of mathematics to a new scientific domain. In the investigation we exposed a group of students to a chemistry instrument based on the Nernst equation in electrochemistry, and an equivalent group of students to a similar mathematics instrument in which the questions were stripped of all chemistry context. Both tests contained items requiring algebraic as well as graphical skills. Students experienced few problems with the algebraic questions in both the chemistry and mathematics tests. Their graphical construction and interpretation skills, on the other hand, are inadequate, as can be seen from the poor performance in both the mathematics and the chemistry results of the graphical question. Our conclusion is that the problem seems to lie at the mathematics side and is not due to the transfer of mathematics to an application.

© Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Received: 18 April 2006; Revised: 15 February 2007; Accepted: 25 February 2007

10.1002/tea.20208 About DOI

Marshall Carrejo - JRST 2008

Students' mathematical modeling of motion
J. Res. Sci. Teach 45: 153-173, 2008.
Jill A. Marshall, David J. Carrejo
email: marshall@mail.utexas.edu

We present results of an investigation of university students' development of mathematical models of motion in a physical science course for preservice teachers and graduate students in science and mathematics education. Although some students were familiar with the standard concepts of position, velocity, and acceleration from physics classes, most students had difficulty using these concepts to characterize actual or hypothetical motions. Furthermore, some students developed their own nonstandard method of describing accelerated motion in terms of changes in the average velocity, from the start of the motion up to a given time. This is in contrast to the physics community's use of the acceleration construct, defined in terms of changes in the instantaneous velocity, to describe such motion. Although the change in average velocity is not typically identified as an important construct in traditional physics texts, some students found it intuitively appealing, and were able to use it successfully to describe and predict motion. We conclude that by focusing on standard constructs, and ignoring possible intuitive ways that students might view motion, standard kinematics instruction may miss an opportunity to maximize student understanding.

© 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Received: 27 October 2006; Accepted: 5 March 2007

DOI: 10.1002/tea.20210