Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 12, Issue 2, Article 14 (Dec., 2011)
Hatice GUZEL
The effect of Internet usage on technology comprehension of physics students: A case study

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In these days, witnessing technological enhancement at a dizzying speed, many events we confront, use, and observe in our daily lives are related with physics. Hence, it’s necessary for today’s people to have a general physics culture education in order to understand and comment on technological developments that affect every stage of life. Bringing up individuals who have a scientific perspective, who can correlate between science and technology, and understand the importance of science and technology in the advancement of the society is clearly stated among the general principles of physics education. Besides the acquisition of basic laws of physics, secondary education physics classes should also make the students obtain the necessary information and skills to succeed in a science and technology dominated world. Relating the knowledge acquired in the classes to real life will enable the students to have a better understanding and usage of concepts (Avci, D.E., & Yagbasan, R. 2004). Rote-learning generally dominates in our schools and as a natural consequence of this, students memorize what they learn without making the knowledge meaningful and do not correlate science education with daily life. Previous studies have determined that students cannot comment on concepts related to physics, chemistry, and biology adequately and were unable to evaluate these and relate to their daily lives (Enginar, Saka, Sesli, 2002; Yigit, Devecioglu, Ayvaci, 2002; Erduran, & Yagbasan, 2003; Bozkurt & Ingeç 2008; Devecioglu & Akdeniz 2006; Pinar & Demirci, 2006; Kaptan & Kusakçi, 2002; Yigit & Akdeniz, 2003; Prosser, 1994; Yildiz, Yildirim, Ilhan, 2006; Ayas, Karamustafaoglu, Sevim, Karamustafaoglu, 2001; Özmen, 2003; Mübeccel, Dogan Bora, Katircioglu, 2005; Yüzbasioglu & Atav, 2004; Gürses, Akrabaoglu, Açikyildiz, Bayrak, Yalçin, Dogar, 2004; Hoffmann, Haeussler, Lehrke, 1998; Köse, Sadi, Kaya, 2008; Mc Keough, Lupart, Marini, 1995).

For this reason, in physics education classes not only the topics but also their relation to our lives should taught to the students. New educational programs should be developed in order to show the relation of physics to our daily lives. Moreover these programs should be open to the new technological developments and environmental problems affecting the society. Most traditional programs aim the transfer of information with the philosophy of traditional learning theories. However, due to the enhancements in communication technology, new information increases at such a rapid pace that it becomes impossible to transfer all knowledge. The philosophies of contemporary programs aim to teach students how to access knowledge rather than transfer. In this new approach, it’s important to enable the students gain fundamental concepts in physics and scientific procedures. After teaching students the basics in physics they should be taught how to reach new information and how to correlate them with life. Enabling individuals to use the acquired knowledge for personal and social ends is among the aims of science education (De Boer, 2000). It’s known that scientific information learned at schools will be lasting as long as it’s correlated with daily life (Ayas & Ozmen, 1998). Redish (2006) developed a model consisting of eight items for the transfer of physics knowledge to daily life based on information processing approach used in cognitive development. In today’s information and technology age, physics/science and technology education have important key roles for the future of a society. Therefore, all societies, especially developed countries are always in the pursuit of increasing the quality of science and technology education (MEB, 2004). Technology education deals with practical applications of physics. Understanding the century we live is primarily related to understanding technology and its dimensions. One of the aims of technology education is to make individuals technology literates (Gordon, Hacker, Viries, 1995). Technology education may enable individuals to be “technology literates”. A technology literate student has to know the relation between technologies and its relation to other fields (ITEA, 2000). Laney (1990) indicated that technology usage was effective on developing high level thinking skills which include describing, problem solving, and producing appropriate solutions for them. Technology usage in learning environments provides substantial learning opportunities for students, arouses their interest, and increases their motivation by centralizing them in the teaching learning process. From this aspect, technology usage has an important role during learning-teaching period (Isman et al., 2002).

Internet is a powerful communication system connecting one computer with another anywhere in the world. Communication with computer network affects education sophisticatedly. While computers have occupied every field of our lives, internet seems to be the main factor that accelerated this trend. Internet has many advantages such as being cheap, fast, and easy to use. Web pages include easily-accessible information on the network. World’s leading trainers test new technologies by gathering new methods from the net (Rose, 1996; Thomas et al., 1996). New information age brings about the need for people who are not only talented in electronics and computer technology but also in the application of these to generate new information as well as in the field where the newly produced information is going to be employed. Now, individuals who find, collect, present, comment, and even create information are appreciated.

Nowadays, the range of technology extends from e-mail to teleconference. In a study carried out at Open University in UK, the best computer mediated methods to support lecturers and students in conventional university courses were investigated. (Light & Colbourne, 1997).

In the study carried out by Strac (1995), it was determined that information and communication technologies (ICT) had a positive impact to the correlation of students’ experiences and their interpretation. It was also indicated that information and communication technologies had important roles in the enrichment of science education (Walton, 2000) and facilitated students’ conception of the concepts better (Kyprianou, 1995; Cavas, 2005). Hence, the Turkish Council of Education and Training allowed projects aimed at the usage of information and communication technologies in education such as publication of articles in many fields and presentation of these to teachers in print or on internet (MEB, 2004).

The teachers both at primary and secondary education gradually started to consider internet as a source for classes (Davenport, 1995). It was also determined that the teacher candidates used internet mostly for performing student affairs and for the aim of making researches about homework and courses (Tokcan, 2008).

Following the developments in science and technology and employing them for the benefit of the public is a precondition of a modern society concerning all layers. Individuals need to be equipped with the latest know-how, skills, and attitudes in order to keep pace with the increasingly complex social life due to fast technological developments. All university students, especially teacher candidates, are to have appropriate education for conducting research during their undergraduate education (Loftus, 1999). The reason for a researching teacher model was explained by Cepni and Akdeniz (1996) as follows: “in our country, educational decisions are taken in the capital and sent to schools as instructions and in order for innovative projects to be understood by the teachers appropriately, teachers have to be educated with a drive for research”.

Students at the universities after 1999 were considered as rather unqualified in terms of using information (Ozmen, 2005). At high schools students who do not take the adequate background in physics courses predominate. This makes the education at universities difficult and most of the time it causes students to fail.

Physics curriculum was redesigned in 2007, in order to cope with the above mentioned problems (MEB, 2007). According to this novel program, the vision of physics course curriculum is to grow individuals who regard physics as life itself, solve problems using scientific methods, analyze interactions between physics, technology, society, and environment, develop positive manners and behaviors for themselves and their environment, are literate in information and have talents necessary for an information society, express their thoughts objectively and effectively, are at peace with himself and their environment, and are productive. This curriculum aims to bring up creative individuals who can see physics in every field of life, learn physics as mentioned in the above vision of the new curriculum, and develop their talents with knowledge of physics. In order to reach this vision, real life based approach together with knowledge and skill acquisitions form the mission of Physics Education Curriculum. Real life-based education approach was investigated in detail with projects and scientific studies carried out in;

  • United Kingdom (the Salters Approach and SLIP: Supported Learning in Physics Project),
  • Germany
  • Finland (ROSE: The Relevance of Science Education),
  • Israel (STEMS: Science, Technology Environment in Modern Society)
  • USA (Finlandiya ChemCom: American Chemical Society)
  • Netherland (PLON: Dutch Physics Curriculum Development Project)

These studies revealed that real life based approach increased the interest and motivation of students for physics courses. Especially Australia and New Zealand pioneered in the impact of real life context based approach on physics and science curriculum. The real life context and Physics-Technology-Society-Environment gains are intertwined with each other. Both approaches establish a relation between the abstract concepts of physics with the concepts of real life. As a result of these studies, it was concluded that European countries work more on real life-based approach, while Americans give particular importance to Science-Technology-Society-Environment gains (MEB,2007).

Considering that the physics curriculum internalizes a real life context based approach, the physics curriculum now highlights that concepts of physics should be taught in units taking technologies used daily into consideration. Hence, an issue worth investigating is the association of physic’s concepts to technology and whether computer and internet use have an impact on the understanding of technology by prospective physics teachers.


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