Sarioğlan and Küçüközer (2015)
The Turkish paper discusses the understanding a wide range of students have about the cause of the seasons and how this understanding changes with age.
- Sun and winter happened when the Earth drew away from the Sun. The frequency of the misconception was seen to drop as age increased.
- The seasons occur because of the clouds. In wintertime, you can see that the clouds are darker and that’s why there are fewer light rays coming from the sun. In the summertime, clouds are white and the sun can reach the Earth more easily.
- The seasons occur because the Earth orbits around the Sun.
The two research questions were:
- What ideas did students have about the causes of the seasons and how did these ideas change with age?
- What were the misconceptions students had about the causes of the seasons and how did these misconceptions change with age?
The students were asked a written question, “What causes the seasons?” and they were asked to explain their responses in writing. The scientifically acceptable answer expected as a response to this question was the tilt of the Earth’s axis while orbiting around the sun. In addition, a semi-structured interview was conducted with a randomly selected volunteer from each age group.
The test was developed for this study but the analysis methods were based on existing studies including a five-category rubric that was created based on the studies of Atwood and Atwood (1997), Barnett and Morran (2002) and Tsai and Chang (2005). Each category was scored and analysed.
After the written responses of the students were reviewed by both researchers, a decision was made regarding which category each of the responses would fit. Each student’s response was placed in only one of the five categories. The percentage of students responding to each category of the rubric from the various age groups was calculated. The SPSS 12.0 package program was used for the qualitative analysis of the data.
Details of the sample
The sample of the study was a total of 974 students between the ages of 10-22.
The students comprising the sample were selected by simple random sampling from five elementary schools, five middle schools, four high schools and one university education department located in a midsize city in the north-western part of Turkey. All of the schools in the sample were state schools.
At the university level, all students were included in the science education department from the faculty of education. At the university level, the sampling was divided into two groups because they had taken formal astronomy instruction before the research.