Lee and Law (2001)
These four Hong Kong-based studies test teaching strategies designed to promote conceptual change in the learning of electrical circuit concepts. The findings suggest that a program encouraging students to build on their existing ideas, predict outcomes, and revise their explanations is effective in fostering deeper comprehension.
- Building on students’ conceptions through predicting and modifying their own explanations can be successful in helping students develop a deeper understanding.
- Precise use of language helps students discriminate the taught scientific conception from ones that they may intuitively hold.
- Teaching the 'global' impact of circuit changes should be a clear learning goal.
- Students believed that current reduced further from the battery; it was being ‘used up’ by components.
- Most students still believed that the battery was the source of current (rather than the source of the e.m.f. or ‘voltage’).
- Most students thought the current from the battery was unaffected by external circuit changes.
- Students in tended to consider the battery as a pump and voltage as a push or a force.
- Students often used the words ‘electricity’ and ‘electric current’ interchangeably.
- Teachers should be aware of students’ alternative conceptions and take these as a starting point for planning and organizing teaching.
- The researchers suggest using qualitative questions, like comparing bulb brightness in the same or different circuits, to prompt students to think about the connections between circuit variables.
- To identify students' alternative ideas about basic electric circuits and assess differences in the ontological categorisation between those who understand accepted concepts and those with alternative beliefs.
- To explore how Chi et al.’s (1994) theory may be used to develop a teaching strategy for promoting conceptual change.
Four studies were completed with questions and activities based on previously published studies.
- In study 1 evidence collection was via a written test and oral interviews
- For studies 2 and 3 participants completed a series of 'predict-observe-explain' tasks.
- For study 4 the subjects completed a written pre-test, followed by e of four lessons that made use of a combination of hands-on experiments, and then repeated the test.
Data was analysed using simple statistics and percentages to reach conclusions.
Details of the sample
- Study one involved six mixed-ability secondary science students (aged 17) from an average-level secondary school who were all taught basic circuitry concepts.
- In the second study, two groups of students took part: a group of three secondary students with the lowest test scores in the written test from study 1 and another group of six students from another class (15-year-olds) who had not yet learnt elementary circuit theory.
- The third study had the same sample as study 2 study 2 except for one of the 17-year-old students.
- Study four involved a group of six 15-year-old students who had not been taught elementary circuit theory and had so far not been involved in this series of studies.