Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 9, Issue 1, Article 7 (Jun., 2008)
Çiğdem ŞAHİN, Hava İPEK and Alipaşa AYAS
Students’ understanding of light concepts in primary school: A cross-age study

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In science and technology education, students come to the formal learning environment with various misconceptions (Gilbert & Watts, 1983). Daily used phrases (Eshach, 2003; Heywood, 2005), intuitional learning (Driver & Easley, 1978; Guesne, Driver & Tiberghien, 1985), misconceptions in textbooks (Ünsal & Güneş, 2003), and teachers explanations (Çalık & Ayas, 2005b) could cause misconceptions in students’ minds. It won’t be easy to change or to remove the misconceptions acquired from several sources (Osborne & Wittrock, 1983; Akdeniz, Yıldız & Yiğit, 2001). Misconceptions are believed to negatively effect students’ conceptual development. Bodner, (1986) indicated that misconceptions would be an obstacle to constructing new knowledge regardless of the quality of teaching.

The conceptual development process starts when students are uncomfortable with their present knowledge or when they feel that their knowledge is insufficient in explaining certain situations they have encountered. To indicate the difference between correct and incorrect scientific knowledge is very important in conceptual development. Recently, various studies have been done to determine and remove misconceptions. Cross-age methodology is preferred in these studies, because this method looks at individuals’ misconceptions developed at an earlier age and how they change are observed (Büyükkasap, Düzgün & Ertuğrul, 2001; Şen, 2003; Krnel, Glazar & Watson, 2003; Çalık, 2005; Çalık & Ayas, 2005a; Saka, Cerrah, Akdeniz & Ayas, 2006). But in many studies, misconceptions constructed at earlier ages are so strong that they are difficult to change (Çalık &Ayas, 2005a; Saka, Cerrah, Akdeniz & Ayas, 2006).

Light, in physics, often has many misconceptions. The literature reveals that a number of alternative concepts were found regarding: definition of light, source of light, speed of light, vision, spread out of light, reflection, images on mirror, etc. (Guesne, Driver & Tiberghien, 1985; Galili & Hazzan 2000; Yıldız, 2000; Cansüngü, 2000; Büyükkasap, Düzgün & Ertuğrul, 2001; Akdeniz, Yıldız and Yiğit, 2001; Cansüngü Koray and Bal 2002; Şen, 2003; Eshach, 2003; Kara, Kanlı & Yağbasan, 2003; Heywood, 2005; Sağlam, 2005; Valanides, & Angeli, 2008).

The purpose of this study is to determine 4th, 6th and 8th grade students’ misconceptions about light, vision, and light sources as well as to investigate students’ conceptual development at different levels of education.

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