High School Students’ Understandings and Representations of the Electric Field.
- A qualifying paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education. Abstract: This study investigates the understandings and representations of the electric field expressed by Chinese high school students ages 15 to 16 who have not yet received high school–level physics instruction. The literature has reported students’ ideas of the electric... read morefield post-instruction as indicated by their performance on textbook-style questionnaires. However, by relying on measures such as questionnaires, previous research has inadequately captured the thinking process that led students to answer questions in the ways that they did. The present study portrays the beginning of this process by closely examining students’ understandings pre-instruction. The participants in this study were asked to engage in a lesson that included informal group tasks that involved playing a Web-based hockey game that replicated an electric field and drawing comic strips that used charges as characters. The lesson was videotaped, students’ work was collected, and three students were interviewed afterward to ascertain more detail about their work. I identified nine ideas related to the electric field that students spontaneously leveraged, even though they had yet to receive formal instruction on the topic. In this paper, I will discuss my findings in comparison with previous research claims.read less