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

Previous Contents Next


1. The Sample

The study sample was selected randomly from a primary school (year 1-8) with a population of nearly 1700 in Akçaabat, Trabzon during the 2005-2006 academic year. A total of 109 students from 4th (N=34 out of 155), 6th (N=36 out of 162) and 8th (N=39 out of 227) grades formed the study group. 


2. Instrument and Data-Collection Procedure

A cross-age study methodology was used in this study. Students from different ages were selected and their conceptual development about light concept was determined using five two- tiered test questions and one open-ended question, a drawing exercise and an interview about concepts; these techniques were used to collect data. The questions were selected from previous studies done by different researchers (Chen, Lin, & Lin, 2002; Heywood, 2005) and then adapted for a Turkish context. In addition, a researcher and a lecturer commented on the questions readability, comprehensibility and appropriateness. The commenter indicated that the questions could be used for the study. Many researchers involved in related literature (Novak, 1988; Büyükkasap, Düzgün & Ertuğrul, 2001; Çalık, & Ayas, 2005b) also used these kinds of questions.

The first question was asked to determine students’ considerations about light. The second question was asked to determine what students knew about light sources. The third question was asked to determine how students have made the connection between light and seeing. The fourth question was asked to determine how students have perceived sight. The fifth question was asked to determine how students have made connections between vision and seeing. The sixth question was asked to determine how students have explained vision, sight, light and light source. Students were given 30 minutes to complete the test. Ten students were selected from each age group according to their answers on the test questions.  Group interviews were conducted about different light sources and reflectors with these same students. Students’ ideas about concepts, their propositions and learning strategies could be determined with interviews about concepts technique (White & Gunstone, 1992). Interviews about concept technique can be applied not only individually but also with groups. It is also suitable for young children (Tytler, 2000). At the end of the interviews, researchers wanted the students to draw a diagram of how they think about sight and vision; this exercise helped to support data.

Using drawings in studies gives students another opportunity to express their ideas and feelings and it also supports students’ written explanations (White, Gunstone, 1992; Çalık & Ayas, 2005a; Sheppart, 2006). It is also possible to determine the relationship between students’ daily life experiences and their scientific knowledge through drawings (Longden, Black & Solomon, 1991; Sheppart, 2006). In this study, various data collection tools were used in order to further investigate students’ understanding at each level.

Data Analysis

 Data collected from the test, concept interviews and the drawings were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively. The data frequencies are calculated and formed into tables. Also, focus concepts, students’ explanations and selected sample drawings are included in the tables.

Copyright (C) 2008 HKIEd APFSLT. Volume 9, Issue 1, Article 7 (Jun., 2008). All Rights Reserved.