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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Young adults receiving physics education at the universities are expected to have high levels of information in the subjects where physics is related to technology. These students are also expected to correlate between scientific and technological events in daily life and hence be science literates.

The sample of the study consisted to 64, 8% of male and to 35, 2% of female students. 91% of the students used internet. In the relevant literature, there are several studies in line with our findings. Atav, Akkoyunlu, & Saglam( 2006) found in their study that 87% of prospective teachers were using the internet and Basaran (2005) determined the internet usage ratio of future teachers as 83%. Similarly Keles, Ipek, & Sahin (2008), as well as Çatlioglu & Kutluca (2008) determined the internet usage ratios of prospective teachers as quite high. Kiyici & Altintas (2010), like Kilinç (2010) determined a high competence in using basic technology. Nevertheless, Erdemir, Bakirci, & Eyduran (2009), study determined that teacher candidates did not consider themselves sufficient in using internet and computer for educational purposes.

Though there was no statistically significant relation between physics students’ internet usage and gender, male students used internet more than female students. Similarly Cavus & Gokdas (2006) indicated that there was no statistically significant difference among the physics students’ internet usage according to their genders; however, female students benefited more from the World Wide Web than their male counterparts. The differences in the findings of the present study might be attributed to the differences in the demography of the participants.

No statistically significant relation was found between the participants’ current grades and internet usage. Whereas the findings of Keles, Ipek, & Sahin (2008), and Tokcan (2008) are supporting our findings, the findings of the study conducted by Erdem (2010) determined the internet usage to be changing according to the classes of the students. However, the findings of Yetisir & Kaplan(2006) are similar to the findings of the present study.

There was not any statistically significant difference between the internet usage levels of the students and their former schools. Whereas the findings of Börü (2001) are supporting our findings, Erdem (2010) determined that internet usage varied according to graduation.

Likewise no statistically significant difference was found between physic students’ internet usage and parental educational status.

The fact that a considerable number of participants assume that both wired and mobile phones operate with sound waves, is one of the disappointing findings of the present study indicating a lack of knowledge regarding the operation principles of these devices. They could not consider that if sound waves were transmitted, the shortest conversation between two short spots would take hours. A great majority of the physics students are expected to provide the right answer to this question. The underlying reason of this fact might be that in the physics classes taught from the primary grades until the tertiary level, no connection is made between daily life and the science.

Bozkurt & Ingec (2008) determined that the level of ninth graders in correlating physical concepts acquired in the physics courses with daily life was moderate. Devecioglu & Akdeniz (2006) indicated that prospective physics teachers could not correlate fundamental concepts of physics with the events in daily life adequately. Erduran & Yagbasan (2003) determined that second graders in high school had difficulties in applying concepts of magnetism to new events confronted in their daily lives; whereas, Pinar & Demirci (2006) determined that the students could not adapt the knowledge about power to their daily lives easily. Kaptan & Kusakci (2002) together with Yigit & Akdeniz (2002) indicated that the level of most of the students was very low in correlating science course subjects with their daily lives. Prosser (1994) determined that the conceptualization of some subjects regarding electricity was low. Yildiz et al. (2006) indicated that three undergraduate chemistry education students in correlating their information about acids and bases with daily life were moderate. Similar results were obtained in the study of Ayas et al. (2001) regarding science education teachers and in the study of Ozmen (2003) regarding prospective chemistry teachers. Mübeccel et al. (2005), determined that only a small group of students (5%) learned the subject meaningfully. Yuzbasioglu & Atav (2004), Gurses et al. (2004) emphasized in their studies that the failure of students was due to teaching the subjects mainly as scientific concepts without relating them to student’s lives. Hoffmann, Haeussler & Lehrke (1998) have shown in their study that showing usage of science subjects in daily life made the lessons more interesting for the students. Kose et al. (2008) found that were able to associate subjects related to biology highly to their daily proceedings. According to Mc Keough, Lupart & Marini (1995), transferring knowledge acquired in schools to real life is the main target of science education.

The results of many studies, determined that physics could not effectively be taught using laboratories due to reasons such as crowded classes, lack of materials, constant pressure of covering the curriculum in time, lack of teacher experience, motivation, university enrolment system. These might be the underlying reasons why many of the concepts in physics are abstract and vague terms for students.

The results of TIMSS, OECD and PISA studies showed also that the success desired in science education is not achieved in Turkey (TIMSS, 2009; PISA, 2005). The basic problem of science education in our country is the little association of new developments to technology and the society within the traditional curriculum in current programs. An overloaded science curriculum, isolated from daily life, students lacking abilities to transfer science concepts to changing situations, lack of interest to science classes are some of the problems that science teachers and hence science education faces (Gilbert, 2006).

Relevant studies emphasize that the necessity of teaching materials widely (film-TV, overhead projector, sound recordings, computer and internet) for effective science education. The underlying reason of the participants’ low association levels of physics’ concepts with technology might be the low level of importance given to technology in the curriculum of their former schools. The findings of the present have shown that ultrasound and magnetic resonance knowledge are lacking in physics students. The underlying reason for this deficiency might be the lack of information acquired throughout their previous education.


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