Use of the TRAC PAC as a microcomputer-based laboratory (MBL) tool for addressing misconceptions in kinematics and kinematic graphs held by secondary school learners

Green, W. J.(Whitfield James) (2004-12)

Thesis (PhD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2004.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study investigated the impact that use of a microcomputer-based laboratory (MBL), in this case the TRAC PAC and associated software, had on student understanding in relation to common 'alternative learner ideas' and difficulties related to kinematics and kinematic graphs. It was carried out in the South African context, and focussed on subject matter that learners are expected to work with in preparation for the Senior Certificate South African examination. Twenty Grade 12 learners from four different schools participated in the study. Three key questions were investigated: 1. What conceptual difficulties do learners in this context experience in relation to kinematics and kinematic graphs? 2. Does use of the TRAC PAC as a microcomputer-based laboratory contribute to learner understanding of graphs of motion and related concepts? 3. If learning is enhanced using the TRAC PAC, what are some of the 'ways of learning' evident as learners participated in the MBL programme? To answer these questions, the study employed both an empirical quantitative dimension and an ethnographic qualitative dimension. The empirical study involved the use of pre- and post-questionnaires which were administered before and after learners participated in a TRAC PACbased learning programme comprising of six 3-hour learning activities conducted over three days. Overall learner performance on the questionnaires, as well as responses to individual questions, were analysed statistically, as well as through use of an 'item and matrix' analysis technique described by Svec (1999). Chapter 8 of this document reports on this component of the study. The ethnographic component of the study made use of observational data, and transcripts of video and audio recordings of learners as they participated in the learning activities. The data gathered using these techniques was analysed largely through use of a 'verbal analysis' technique described by Chi (1997). Chapter 9 of this document reports on this component of the study. In relation to Research Question 1, the main findings of the study were: • A literature review highlighted common 'alternative learner ideas' identified by other researchers, and these allowed me to group them into four main areas. These are described in Chapter 4 of this report. • The analysis of the questionnaires highlighted 'alternative learner ideas' that the group of learners who participated in this project held. These are described in Chapter 8 of this report. • The analysis of the video and audio transcripts also allowed for the identification of 'alternative learner ideas' held by this group of learners. These are described in Chapter 9 of this report. There was a high degree of commonality between the 'alternative learner ideas' identified through use of these three different sources. Research Question 2 was answered mainly through the empirical study described in Chapter 8 of this report. It was found that the MBL experience generally resulted in an improvement in learner understanding in this area of kinematics and kinematic graphs. More detailed statistical and 'item and matrix' analyses showed that the impact on learner understanding was better in certain areas than in others. The ethnographic study described in Chapter 9 contributed to answeri The degree of learner involvement in learning activities seemed to impact on the effectiveness of the programme. Possible factors impacting on involvement were identified . • 'Alternative learner ideas' were made visible in the context of 'argumentation episodes' and 'discussion and explanation episodes'. Consequently, these formed the contexts in which shifts in understanding were most likely to take place. Key learner behaviours and skills necessary for participation in these episodes are identified, and linked to success and non-success on the programme. Recommendations arrsmg from findings m the study are described m Chapters 8, 9 and 10of this report.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie ondersoek bestudeer gebaseerde laboratorium, III gepaardgaande sagteware, op kinematikagrafieke het. die uitwerking wat 'n hierdie geval die TRAC studente se begrip van mikro-rekenaar PAC en die kinematika en Die ondersoek is III 'n Suid-Afrikaanse konteks uitgevoer en is toegespits op die vakmateriaal wat leerders behoort te beheers ter voorbereiding vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Senior Sertifikaat. Twintig Graad 12' s van vier verskillende skole het aan die ondersoek deelgeneem. Drie sleutelvrae is ondersoek: 1. Watter begripsprobleme ondervind leerders in hierdie verband met betrekking tot kinematika en kinematikagrafieke? 2. Dra die gebruik van die TRAC PAC as 'n mikro-rekenaar gebaseerde laboratorium by tot die leerder se begrip van kinematikagrafieke en verwante begrippe? 3. Indien "leer" deur die gebruik van die TRAC PAC bevorder word, watter "vorme van leer" is waarneembaar as leerders deelneem aan die MBL-program? Beide 'n empiries-kwantitatiewe dimensie en 'n etnografiese kwalitatiewe dimensie is in die navorsing gebruik. Die empiriese ondersoek maak van beide 'n voortoets en 'n na-toets gebruik. Hierdie vrae is aan die leerders voorsien voordat asook nadat hulle aan die TRAC PAC gebaseerde leerprogram deelgeneem het. Die leerprogram het bestaan uit ses leeraktiwiteite, elk drie uur lank, wat oor 'n tydperk van drie dae gedoen is. Die leerders se prestasie/uitslae met betrekking tot die vrae asook hul reaksie op individuele vrae is statisties ontleed, asook met behulp van die 'item en matriks' analitiese tegniek soos deur Svec (1999) beskryf. Hoofstuk 8 van hierdie verslag verwys na hierdie deel van die ondersoek. Die etnografiese komponent van die die ondersoek maak gebruik van waarnemingsdata en transkripsies van band- en video-opnames van leerders verkry tydens hul deelname aan die leeraktiwiteite. Die data so verkry, IS hoofsaaklik geanaliseer deur van die 'n verbale analise-tegniek gebruik te maak soos deur Chi (1999) voorgestel. Hoofstuk 9 van hierdie dokument doen verslag oor hierdie komponent van die ondersoek. Wat Navorsingsvraag 1 betref, IS die hoofbevindings van die studie die volgende: • 'n literatuur-oorsig beklemtoon die algemene alternatiewe leerderopvattings wat deur ander navorsers geidentifiseer is. Dit het my in staat gestelom hulle in 4 hoofareas te groepeer wat ek in hoofstuk 4 van die verslag bespreek. • Die analise van die vraelyste beklemtoon die alternatiewe leerderopvattings van die groep leerders wat aan hierdie proj ek deelgeneem het. Dit word in hoofstuk 8 van hierdie verslag bespreek. • Die analise van die band- en video-opnames het ook bygedra tot die identifikasie van' alternatiewe leerder-idees' wat by hierdie groep leerders voorkom. Dit word in hoofstuk 9 van hierdie verslag bespreek. Daar is 'n groot mate van ooreenkoms ten opsigte van die alternatiewe leerderopvattings wat by hierdie drie verskillende groepe voorkom. Navorsingsvraag 2 is hoofsaaklik beantwoord deur die emprrrese studie wat in hoofstuk 8 van hierdie verslag bespreek word. Daar is bevind dat die MBLondervinding oor die algemeen 'n vebetering in die leerders se begrip ten opsigte van kinematika en kinematikagrafieke tot gevolg gehad het. 'n Meer gedetailleerde statistiese 'item en matriks' -analise het getoon dat die uitwerking op die leerders se begrip in sommige areas beter was as in ander. Die etnografiese studie wat in hoofstuk 9 van hierdie verslag beskryf word, dra by tot die beantwoording van Navorsingsvraag 3. Sleutelbevindings met betrekking tot hierdie vraag sluit onder andere in: • Leerderdeelname aan leeraktiwiteite hou skynbaar verband met die sukses wat hulle in die program behaal. Moontlike faktore wat 'n invloed op deelname kon hê, is geidentifiseer. • Alternatiewe leerderopvattings is In die konteks van 'beredeneringsepisodes ' en 'besprekings- en verduidelikings-episodes' uitgelig. Hierdie "episodes" het die waarskynlikste verband uitgewys waarbinne veranderings van insig/begrip kan plaasvind. Kernleerdergedrag en vaardighede wat noodsaaklik IS vir die deelname aan hierdie episodes is geidentifiseer, en is gekoppel aan 'n leerder se sukses en mislukking tydens deelname aan die program. Aanbevelings wat voortspruit uit die bevindings van die ondersoek word In hoofstukke 8, 9 en 10 van hierdie verslag, bespreek.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/50215
This item appears in the following collections: