The Application of Working Memory Theory to the Learning of Physics

Ziane, Miloud (1990) The Application of Working Memory Theory to the Learning of Physics. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The first aim of this research was to replicate in physics work which had been done in chemistry by Johnstone and El-Banna 1987(52,85), in which Working Memory Theory had been used to account for student performance in traditional exams. This was carried out and the results in physics coincided well with the chemistry findings that Working Memory Theory space correlated well with exam performance and that a sharp fall in performance occurred when the demand of a question exceeded the Working Memory Space. An additional study was done to relate Field Dependence/ Field Independence measures to performance and to Working Memory Space. This was found to be of lesser importance. The second aim was to apply the insights gained in the first part of the study to help in the design of student laboratory and tutorial experiences . The laboratory work was carried out with undergraduates in Glasgow while the tutorial work was carried out with both Glasgow undergraduates and Algerian Baccalaureat students. 1. In the light of preliminary work, laboratory instruction manuals were redesigned so as to reduce information load by improved layout, by the use of diagrams and by the removal of extraneous and misleading information. We have evidence that the understanding and the attitudes of students in the laboratory have been improved. 2. Attention was also turned to problem solving; tutorial problems have been designed in different forms to change the load in them and so minimise the psychological effects and the processing demand. The follow up of the findings has resulted in improved student performance. These findings should be generally applicable to the learning of physics. Changes in education are often made on the basis of belief, fashion or necessity. In this study we had time to look carefully at a theoretical approach to change which enabled hypotheses to the raised and tested and which also suggested a mechanism for systematically improving learning in physics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Science education, Educational psychology
Date of Award: 1990
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1990-78197
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2020 12:09
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2020 12:09

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