Understanding and accessibility in physics

Haghanikar, Mojgan Matloob (2003) Understanding and accessibility in physics. MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This study is about making physics accessible to learners. The strategy adopted was to promote active participation of students and to investigate students' understanding of the basic concepts. The previous findings from educational research and learning models have been discussed and a wealth of pieces of research have been studied in attempt to determine why learners find physics difficult. Part of the research was focused at university level and involved courses in Positional Astronomy and Special Relativity. Having explored the areas of difficulty in these two courses by the means of a difficulty survey and questionnaires, two pilot units were devised. These consisted of a series of self-diagnostic tasks intended to probe students' fundamental understanding of the most basic concepts. The aim was to help students step-by-step to modify their own understanding. The method employed here is in accord with constructivist view of learning and close to Ausubel's ideas of meaningful learning. The contributions of this study was to reveal the lack of conceptual understanding in these fields and to examine an application of an alternative style of teaching. This study was a small prototype for a much more extensive project. The long-term target is to develop on-line, self-diagnostic learning material to help students to correct their basic conceptual understanding. The results suggest that this target is attainable. A second study was carried out in schools. Here a different approach toward active participation of the learner was adopted which was collaborative working. For this purpose, a unit was developed for a collaborative working on the base of Britain's primary energy resources. The style of the unit was based on role play technique. In this technique, students had to interact with problematic issues which may face the society and where they had to apply their science knowledge in order to reach balanced acceptable solutions. The school study revealed that there are severe difficulties in grasping the concept of energy. Most of the students reported there is too much information to absorb. In this experiment group working was helpful for students to learn more in-depth. Moreover, the role play technique was helpful to shed light on social aspects of the science and link the science classes to their applications in daily life.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: Norman Reid
Keywords: Science education
Date of Award: 2003
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2003-71417
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 May 2019 10:49
Last Modified: 10 May 2019 10:49
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/71417

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