Development and Validation of a Diagnostic Instrument to Evaluate Secondary School Students’ Conceptions and Problem Solving in Mechanics

By Tussatrin Wannagatesiri.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A diagnostic instrument consisting of 18 items was developed to evaluate students’ understandings about mechanics. The instrument was administered to 240 eleventh grade students attending four typical public high schools in Thailand. Analysis of the students’ responses identified the existence of patterns of reasoning that are common to conceptions in different areas of mechanics involving the direction of force acting on a moving object, objects moving under the sole influence of gravity, motion involving mechanical energy and momentum. Reliability proved sufficient (Cronbach’s alpha equals .7). The study revealed students held a difficulty in understanding why and when to use force, motion, energy and momentum concepts, and especially the qualitatively interpreting basic principle related to conservation laws. Their skills of problem analysis and judgment on the efficiency of a given solution to a problem were poor. We also found a mismatch between students’ confidence in answering the items and their correct responses through the correlation between the students’ confidence of being correct on each item and the actual correct responses being significantly less than 0.278. Thus this instrument is a convenient diagnostic tool that any teacher could use to identify students’ perceptions to the introduction of the topic and students’ alternative conceptions during classroom instruction.

Keywords: Misconceptions, Secondary School Students, Mechanics

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 17, Issue 10, pp.51-70. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.035MB).

Dr. Tussatrin Wannagatesiri

Lecturer, Institute for Innovative Learning, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand

I’m interested in inquiry and contextual teaching and learning in Physics and In-Service and Pre-Service Science and Mathematics Teacher Professional Development, including development of teaching and learning processes, learning materials, hands-on activity and formative assessment in Mathematical and Physics Education. In 2007-2010, I worked as a lecturer by focusing on “Innovation and Classroom Action Research for Science Teachers” at the Institute for Innovative Learning, Mahidol University. Recently, I can be reached at Department of Teacher Education, Faculty of Education and Developmental Sciences, Kasetsart University, Kamphaeng Saen Campus, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand.


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