Kortemeyer - PRST-PER 2009

Gender differences in the use of an online homework system in an introductory physics course
Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 5, 010107 (2009)

Gerd Kortemeyer

The two genders make different use of being allowed multiple tries to solve online homework problems: male students frequently attempt to immediately solve the problem, while female students are more likely to first interact with peers and teaching assistants before entering answers. More male than female students state that they use the multiple allowed attempts to enter “random stuff,” while more female than male students state that the multiple attempts allow them to explore their own problem solving approaches without worrying or being stressed out by grades.


Kim Song - IJSE 2009

The Effects of Dichotomous Attitudes toward Science on Interest and Conceptual Understanding in Physics
International Journal of Science Education online first publication

Minkee Kim; Jinwoong Song

The literature on students' attitudinal constructs in science education asserts that students hold dichotomous attitudes toward science (AS). For instance, studies from the Relevance of Science Education project reveal that students possess negative attitudes in terms of their favourableness toward school science, preference toward scientific careers, and emotional states toward science (negative intrinsic AS), despite their positive perception that science is important for society (positive extrinsic AS). The issue demands in-depth examination, since not enough science educators have studied the effects of the dichotomous AS on science education. Rather, they have attempted to improve the uncategorised AS for stimulating student achievement in science education. Hence, the aim of this study is to clarify how the dichotomous attitude (intrinsic AS and extrinsic AS) relates to the two educational products in science: interest inventory and conceptual understanding. One hundred and sixteen physics learners in Japan were sampled for fitting the structural equation model in this study. Our final model validated by LISREL suggests that intrinsic AS exclusively stimulate students' interest and conceptual understanding in physics, while extrinsic AS fail to play their expected role. Finally, features of the sampled 10th-graders and their dichotomous AS are further interpreted with the prevalent concept of the hidden curriculum.


Espinoza - JSET 2009

Using Project-Based Data in Physics to Examine Television Viewing in Relation to Student Performance in Science
Journal of Science Education and Technology (online first publication)

Fernando Espinoza

Mass media, particularly television, influence public conceptions and attitudes toward learning science. The discovery of an original method that does not rely on self-reported viewing habits to measure the impact of television on students’ performance in science arose from a study of a unit on electricity in a Physics course. In determining the number of television sets at home and the number of hours of operation, data emerged that allowed an investigation of associations between each of these variables and student performance in physics. A negative impact on performance was found in its consistent decrease as both the number of sets and the time the sets are on increase. These results provide dramatic independent confirmation of the negative impact of television viewing on achievement determined through meta-analysis of many studies, and are also consistent with those in the literature at large, particularly from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Furthermore, the totally ‘blind’ participation of the subjects lends a degree of authenticity rarely found in a classically designed study. The findings impact scientific literacy, since performance in science and conceptions of science and scientists, are all inextricably linked.

Glauert - IJSE 2009

How Young Children Understand Electric Circuits: Prediction, explanation and exploration
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 31, Issue 8 May 2009 , pages 1025 - 1047

Esme Bridget Glauert

This paper reports findings from a study of young children's views about electric circuits. Twenty-eight children aged 5 and 6 years were interviewed. They were shown examples of circuits and asked to predict whether they would work and explain why. They were then invited to try out some of the circuit examples or make circuits of their own choosing. Children expressed a variety of views about the connections needed in a circuit, offered different kinds of explanation and showed differing levels of competence in circuit making. The range of responses showed similarities to those of older students found in previous research. The relationship between practical competence, prediction, and explanation was not straightforward. For example, children with similar levels of practical competence made different predictions or offered different kinds of explanation. Analysis of the circuits children chose to construct suggested influences of existing competence and knowledge. In particular, some children tested out circuit examples about which they had been unsure during the interview, while others explored circuit connections more generally. Findings underline the importance of drawing on a variety of evidence in assessing young children's understandings of electric circuits. They indicate that young children may offer views about electric circuits not unlike those of older children and adults with similar experience. Finally, there was some suggestion that the interview procedure may have acted as an instructive stimulus in helping children to become more conscious of their own views and reflect on their thinking in the light of further evidence.

Ozdemir - IJSE 2009

Avoidance from Thought Experiments: Fear of misconception
International Journal of Science Education, Volume 31, Issue 8 May 2009 , pages 1049 - 1068

Omer Faruk Ozdemir

Two independent lines of research—mental simulations and thought experiments—provide strong arguments about the importance of perceptual modalities for the instructional practices in science education. By situating the use of mental simulations in the framework of thought experiments, this study investigated the nature and the role of mental simulations in the context of problem-solving. This study draws on data collected through problem-solving sessions with five physics graduates. Throughout the problem-solving sessions, think-aloud and retrospective questioning were used. Results from this study support some serious concerns put forward by several researchers in the community of science educators about high dependence on descriptive forms of scientific knowledge and exclusion of perceptual modalities from instructional practices. The participants' verbal reports confirmed that they had implicitly or explicitly reached a conclusion that mental simulations were not a legitimate way of reasoning about physics problems, and they consciously avoided the use of mental simulations. This conceptualization seemed to lead participants to compartmentalize mental simulations from formal physics knowledge. Therefore, mental simulations were not refined but kept in a primitive form, which was no more than a retrieval of perceptual representations constructed through observations and experiences of the world. The speculations on the results of the study were based on the interpretations of learning science in terms of the refinement and reorganizations of preinstructional ideas.


Reviews in PER - Volume 2 (Getting Started)

Getting Started in Physics Education Research

Foreword (direct link)
Charles Henderson and Kathleen A. Harper
We welcome comments about this issue, as well as suggestions for topics to be addressed by future issues.

An Introduction to Physics Education Research (direct link)
Robert Beichner
This article aims to introduce the reader to the field of Physics Education Research (PER).

An Introduction to Classical Test Theory as Applied to Conceptual Multiple-choice Tests (direct link)
Paula V. Engelhardt
The purpose of this paper is to provide the reader with a general overview of the key aspects of the development process from the perspective of classical test theory and critical issues that distinguish high-quality conceptual multiple-choice tests from those that are not.

Additional articles are planned, and this post will be updated.