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Keywords:

  • alternative conception;
  • conceptual change;
  • electric potential and energy;
  • electricity and magnetism;
  • electromagnetic induction;
  • conceptual knowledge;
  • cognitive perturbation;
  • cognitive conflict;
  • simulation

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The Problem
  4. Simulations
  5. Cognitive Conflict Approach
  6. Cognitive Perturbation Approach
  7. Research Question
  8. Methodology
  9. Results
  10. Discussion
  11. Conclusions
  12. Recommendations for Future Study
  13. References
  14. Supporting Information

The purpose of this study was to investigate Ethiopian physics undergraduate students' conceptual change in the concepts of electric potential and energy (EPE) and electromagnetic induction (EMI). A quasi-experimental design was used to study the effect of cognitive perturbation using physics interactive simulations (CPS) in relation to cognitive conflict using physics interactive simulations (CCS). Data were collected by using the modified Diagnostic Exam of Electricity and Magnetism (DEEM). ANCOVA was conducted on the scores of 45 students on the modified DEEM test to compare the effectiveness of the CCS and CPS. The results showed a significant difference between the two classes of the post-test scores on the DEEM test, (1, 36) = 4.66, p = 0.04, partial eta squared = 0.12. Consequently, it was concluded that there is a statistically significant difference between CPS and CCS in changing students' alternative conceptions towards scientific conceptions favoring CPS. Medium practical difference between the two classes was estimated by the partial eta squared effect size. To characterize and compare improvement of the students' conceptual learning in both treatment classes, Hake's average normalized gain 〈g〉 from pre- to post-scores were analyzed. It is suggested that in abstract conceptual areas of electricity and magnetism, in which most students have inappropriate and counterproductive responses, cognitive perturbation through interactive simulations is more effective than cognitive conflict through interactive simulations in facilitating conceptual change, and, thus, can improve classroom instruction in the area. Recommendations are also suggested for guiding future research in this area. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach

For the last three decades, the term conceptual change has existed in the literature of science education with regard to changing students' alternative conceptions of science concepts. Conceptual change is a learning process in which students' alternative conceptions transform or reconstruct into the intended scientific conceptions (Vosniadou, 2007). Hence, this learning process is based on the constructivist theory of learning (Hewson & Thorley, 1989), because it involves the guiding of students to reconstruct their alternative conceptions to allow the development of the intended scientific conceptions (Pinarbasi, Canpolat, & Bayrakceken, 2006).

Current reviews of progress of conceptual change research shows that there are two prominent but competing theoretical perspectives regarding structure of students' alternative conceptions (Özdemir & Clark, 2007). These are alternative conception as a theory perspective (e.g., Chi, 2005; Ioannides & Vosniadou, 2002; Wellman & Gelman, 1992) and alternative conception as an elements perspective (knowledge in pieces; e.g., Bao & Redish, 2006; Clark, 2006; diSessa, Gillespie, & Esterly, 2004; Harrison, Grayson, & Treagust, 1999). These two perspectives imply different pathways for conceptual change to help students restructure their understanding (Özdemir & Clark, 2007; Keiny, 2008).

Earlier research literature has predominantly supported alternative conception as a theory perspective and consequently hypothesized revolutionary conceptual change through various strategies (Ioannides & Vosniadou, 2002; Linder, 1993; Vosniadou & Brewer, 1992). Cognitive conflict is a revolutionary process of conceptual change (Hewson & Hewson, 1984; Nussbaum & Novice, 1982; Tao & Gunstone, 1999) in the classical conceptual change model (Hewson & Hewson, 1984; Posner, Strike, Hewson, & Gertzog, 1982), which has been implemented mostly in the learning of science concepts. This strategy is dominant in making learners dissatisfied with their existing alternative conceptions and in rendering the scientific conceptions intelligible, plausible, and fruitful (Hewson & Thorley, 1989).

On the other hand, there are instructional propositions that potentially favor the adoption of alternative conceptions as an elements perspective and hypothesize that the structure of students' conceptions consists of multiple conceptual elements at various stages of development and sophistication (Özdemir & Clark, 2007). This is because students are inexperienced in the topic under study or they are just beginning to learn new concepts and their responses are strongly context dependent (Bao & Redish, 2006). In addition, a growing number of studies (Li, 2011; Li, Law, & Lui, 2006; Tao & Gunstone, 1999) indicate that students' learning of concepts in science is rather complex and idiosyncratic. Similarly, inconsistency of students' alternative conceptions was studied in the categorization of alternative conceptions of the concepts in electricity and magnetism (EM) (Dega, Kriek, & Mogese, 2012). Based on this study, it was proposed that conceptual change learning involves a gradually evolutionary process rather than a broad theory replacement process (Li, 2011; Li et al., 2006). The cognitive perturbation approach involves step-by-step learning of concepts based on the understanding that paths of conceptual change for different students/groups of students are idiosyncratic, diverse, and context sensitive (Li et al., 2006).

Thus, although there is not yet a consensus on the structure of students' alternative conceptions and the strategies of conceptual change, it is important to examine an effective conceptual change strategy that may enhance students' learning of concepts. This is necessary especially in EM in which motion of microscopic objects and other complex and difficult concepts exist. Hence, to augment students' learning of the concepts of EM, this study is mainly aimed at comparing the effectiveness of a strategy emerging from the evolutionary perspective of conceptual change with the dominant classical conceptual change strategy emerging from the revolutionary perspective of conceptual change.

The Problem

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The Problem
  4. Simulations
  5. Cognitive Conflict Approach
  6. Cognitive Perturbation Approach
  7. Research Question
  8. Methodology
  9. Results
  10. Discussion
  11. Conclusions
  12. Recommendations for Future Study
  13. References
  14. Supporting Information

Investigations into the development of students' conceptual change were mainly focused on DC electric circuits. Examples of the areas studied were the following: the effectiveness of the potential difference approach in relation to the usual current concept approach (Rosenthal & Henderson, 2006); the use of analogy with the four-step constructivist teaching model (elicit–engage–explanation–extension) (İpek & Çalık, 2008); conceptual change simulations over the traditional confirmatory simulations (Baser, 2006); and the effectiveness of computer-supported versus real laboratory inquiry learning environments on pre-service teachers (Baser & Durmus, 2010). In addition, there was supposition to address students' difficulties and alternative conceptions in EM using techniques that could visualize field patterns (Saglam & Millar, 2006). For its realization, Stocklmayer (2010) investigated the success of the field-model as an alternative approach to teaching of DC concepts.

However, other EM concepts, like electromagnetic induction and electric potential and electric energy with which most students in various countries experience difficulties (Planinic, 2006; Saglam & Millar, 2006) have not been adequately addressed. In addition, no techniques have been designed to address the complexities, idiosyncrasies (Li et al., 2006) and inconsistencies as well as fragmentariness of students' conceptions (Albe, Venturini, & Lascours, 2001; Dega et al., 2012; Greca & Moreira, 1997), as students' alternative conceptions often appear in EM. Such conceptions might need different learning paths for different students as an instructional strategy (Baser & Geban, 2007; Chinn & Samarapungavan, 2009).

Students face most of the concepts in EM in school learning in the context where teachers mostly use the traditional transmission model and in this case Ethiopia is no exception. The traditional transmission model is ineffective in physics concepts learning (Dykstra, Boyle, & Monach, 1992; Grayson, 1994; Hake, 1998). Consequently, students' alternative conceptions in EM often remain unstable and inconsistent after instruction. The concepts in EM are complex and involve abstract relations (Chabay & Sherwood, 2006) and can, therefore, be particularly problematic in students' learning. Moreover, studies on the assessment of difficulties in the concepts of EM have shown that the difficulties have similar trends across countries and universities (Maloney, O'Kuma, Hieggelke, & Heuvelen, 2001; Planinic, 2006; Saglam & Millar, 2006). Some studies (Dega et al., 2012; Finkelstein, 2005; Planinic, 2006) have reported several students scoring low results in conceptual diagnostic tests. For example, undergraduate physics students who scored good grades in EM were reported to lack understanding of basic concepts in EM as they failed to answer more than one-half of the questions on the basic conceptual survey of EM (Finkelstein, 2005; Pepper, Chasteen, Pollock, & Perkins, 2010). In addition, first year physics undergraduate students' score in the Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism (CSEM) was found in the low random response state (Dega et al., 2012). Along this, studies reporting on students' concepts in EM at university level showed that the sequential structure of instruction which spends most of the course on problem solving was ineffective to reduce students' alternative conceptions (Chabay & Sherwood, 2006; Saglam & Millar, 2006; Planinic, 2006).

Simulations

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The Problem
  4. Simulations
  5. Cognitive Conflict Approach
  6. Cognitive Perturbation Approach
  7. Research Question
  8. Methodology
  9. Results
  10. Discussion
  11. Conclusions
  12. Recommendations for Future Study
  13. References
  14. Supporting Information

Simulations provide many affordances to address the problems outlined in the previous section. Simulations are useful in concept learning for visualization because of the complex and invisible nature of concepts (Rutten, van Joolingen, & van der Veen, 2012), the construction of knowledge through less guided exploration (Urban-Woldron, 2009) and the provision of discrepant events in exploratory learning environments (Zacharia & Anderson, 2003). Computer simulations are used to provide discrepant events in conceptual learning because they have the capacity to provide learners with an exploratory learning environment (Zacharia & Anderson, 2003). They can also motivate and actively engage students towards construction and reconstruction of conceptual knowledge in their learning of abstract concepts in the microscopic physical world (Jimoyiannis & Komis, 2001). This is due to the view about constructivist theory of science learning in which knowledge is not transmitted but is constructed by active learners' mental interaction with the physical and social world (Fosnot, 1993). Simulations can be used in a classroom to initiate student–student and student–teacher interactions which are important components of learning from the constructivist perspective. Hence, computer interactive simulations can be used in enhancement of the students' conceptual change based on an inclusive epistemological-individual and social constructivist theory of learning (Duit & Treagust, 2003; Vosniadou, 2007).

The use of appropriate interactive visualization simulated software available for teaching in the physics classroom has become important to overcome the limitations of real experiments and helps students to construct their knowledge through less guided exploration (Urban-Woldron, 2009). Particularly, the research of the Physics Education Technology (PhET) project (Adams, 2010; Wieman, Adams, & Perkins, 2008) related to simulations and students' motivation has developed several interactive simulations on the topics of physics. Virtual experimentations with computer simulations are more comfortable, easier to use, more open-ended than the physical equipment (Pyatt & Sims, 2012). Similarly, studies (Akpan & Strayer, 2010; Bayraktar, 2002; Bell & Trundle, 2008; Finkelstein et al., 2005; Huppert, Lomask, & Lazarowitz, 2002; Jaakkola, Nurmi, & Veermans, 2011; Pyatt & Sims, 2012; Winn et al., 2006; Zacharia, 2007) have found that virtual experimentation when compared to physical experimentation may yield equal if not greater learning gains. In addition, Moore and Thomas (1983) and Stone (2007) have shown that simulations are attractive because they save time and simplify experimental procedures. Consequently, they promote realism and assist in forming conceptual understanding (Foti & Ring, 2008; Hsu, 2008; Zacharia, 2005) and result in greater learning gains above and beyond those achieved in comparable physical laboratory experiences (Pyatt & Sims, 2012).

Moreover, Rutten et al. (2012) reviewed 51 articles between 2001 and 2010 and found that simulations are useful for visualization and reported large effect sizes of well-designed simulation-based instruction. Accordingly, if students are given a chance to run appropriate simulations, then the simulations can offer them opportunities to actively interact in their learning at reasonable scale and time frame. Hence, in this study, EM simulations are intended to situate interactive engagements and to explicit visual representations in students' learning of EM concepts to compare two constructivist learning approaches—cognitive conflict and cognitive perturbation—from different perspectives of conceptual change.

Cognitive Conflict Approach

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The Problem
  4. Simulations
  5. Cognitive Conflict Approach
  6. Cognitive Perturbation Approach
  7. Research Question
  8. Methodology
  9. Results
  10. Discussion
  11. Conclusions
  12. Recommendations for Future Study
  13. References
  14. Supporting Information

Cognitive conflict (Hewson & Hewson, 1984) is one of the strategies of a classical conceptual change model which has been implemented mainly in the learning of science concepts. It constitutes of a crucial stage in the influential conceptual change model proposed by Posner et al. (1982). Posner et al. (1982) proposed conditions for conceptual change which were suggested that learning occurs when the learners recognize a need and become dissatisfied with their existing conceptions. Therefore, to stimulate students to change their alternative conceptions, the scientific conceptions should appear intelligible, plausible, and fruitful (Hewson & Thorley, 1989). In other words, this model suggests creating dissatisfaction in students with their alternative conceptions which, in turn, will strengthen the status of the desired scientific conceptions. Based on this model, the cognitive conflict approach was developed which considerably enhanced students' conceptual understanding of science (Hand & Treagust, 1991; Hewson & Hewson, 1983; Stofflett & Stoddart, 1994).

The cognitive conflict approach is based on cognitive ideas and appeared more efficient than the traditional transmission approach in learning of science concepts (Duit & Treagust, 2003; Posner et al., 1982). It was shown in a number of studies (Dykstra et al., 1992; Grayson, 1994; Hake, 1998) that conceptual change in physics cannot be achieved solely by traditional teaching.

Although cognitive conflict constitutes a crucial stage in the influential conceptual change model proposed by Posner et al. (1982), certain difficulties therewith and limitations thereto have been reported (Chan, Burtis, & Bereiter, 1997; Demastes, Settlage, & Good, 1995; Dreyfus, Jungwirth, & Eliovitch, 1990; Limon, 2001; Zohar & Aharon-Kravetsky, 2005). The limitations to the cognitive conflict of classical conceptual change model are due to the complex nature of students' alternative conceptions (Duit & Treagust, 2003). That is, the idiosyncrasy and diversity found in students' conceptual development and the vacillation of students' alternative conceptions from one context to another (Li et al., 2006) constrains conceptual change learning. For instance, studies (Chan et al., 1997; Demastes et al., 1995; Dreyfus et al., 1990) attest that it is difficult for all students to reach a stage of meaningful cognitive conflict. In addition, there exist discrepancies among students in their willingness to confront and resolve cognitive conflicts (Chan et al., 1997).

Current research indicates that the cognitive conflict approach has different effects for students at different academic levels. Limon (2001) and Zohar and Aharon-Kravetsky (2005) indicated that the cognitive conflict strategy can benefit students with high academic achievements while it hinders progress of students with low academic achievements. In addition, students' responses to scientific conceptions are influenced by their prior knowledge. Chinn and Brewer (1993) and Limon (2001) showed that if students have little or inconsistent conceptual knowledge about a topic, especially of the abstract and complex concepts of EM, then cognitive conflict would not be meaningful at all. This is due to the inconsistency of students' conceptions that are found at low levels and the wide cognitive gap that exists between their prior conception and scientific conception. As a result, it is less likely to expect effective students' conceptual change.

Many of the difficulties associated with the application of the cognitive conflict strategy are closely related to the complexity of factors intervening in conceptual learning in the context of classroom settings. Firstly, the success of the cognitive conflict approach depends strongly on the ability of the individual student to recognize and resolve the conflict (Limon, 2001). This means that several intellectually less able students may fail to even recognize the conflict and some of those who do recognize it may not be able to resolve it (Planinic, Krsnik, Pecina, & Susac, 2005). Secondly, students are generally reluctant or unwilling to abandon their alternative conceptions, which were the products of their own experience (Chan et al., 1997; Planinic et al., 2005). However, scientific conceptions are often difficult to understand by the students because they are not grounded in their experience (Planinic et al., 2005). Therefore, this hiatus between the scientific conceptions and the students' experience could create frustration in physics students who have less confidence in their conceptual knowledge in EM and, consequently, see it as a confirmation of their inability to learn physics.

There are controversial results regarding the effectiveness of cognitive conflict in the learning of science concepts. According to Lee and Byun (2012) and Zohar and Aharon-Kravetsky (2005), students usually own inconsistencies in a superficial way rather than undergo more radical kinds of changes implied by the conceptual change theory.

In the cognitive conflict, students' conceptions are often distinguished as either alternative conceptions or scientific conceptions. With this view, students fail to make sense of the discrepant events in the complex concepts of EM and maintain their alternative conceptions after instruction (Chabay & Sherwood, 2006; Finkelstein, 2005). Thus, the ability of the cognitive conflict in the classical conceptual change model to provide appropriate conceptual anchors to bridge the gap between the students' alternative conceptions and scientific conceptions is limited.

In general, the cognitive conflict of the classical conceptual change model has been proposed and viewed as a linear, rational, deterministic, one step and revolutionary process of conceptual change with coherent alternative conceptions (Nussbaum & Novice, 1982; Tao & Gunstone, 1999). Nevertheless, it could be suggested that perhaps this process may have different paths for different learners, which not always are linear and revolutionary. More scientific knowledge, however, of the intermediate states of the conceptual change process that would be based on the contextual need of learners is still lacking. Therefore, it would be necessary to challenge alternative conceptions of students in different contexts of classroom setting and to overcome the limitations of cognitive conflict approach that may appear in students' learning of selected conceptual areas in EM.

Cognitive Perturbation Approach

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The Problem
  4. Simulations
  5. Cognitive Conflict Approach
  6. Cognitive Perturbation Approach
  7. Research Question
  8. Methodology
  9. Results
  10. Discussion
  11. Conclusions
  12. Recommendations for Future Study
  13. References
  14. Supporting Information

The fundamental idea of the cognitive perturbation approach is based on the understanding that paths of conceptual change for different students/groups of students are idiosyncratic, diverse, and context sensitive (Li, 2011; Li et al., 2006). The types of perturbations necessary for initiating conceptual change would be determined by contexts in which students engage.

The cognitive perturbation approach is based on the constructivist theory of learning (Driver, Asoko, Leach, Mortimer, & Scott, 1994), like the cognitive conflict approach (Hewson & Hewson, 1984) of the classical conceptual change model. However, the cognitive perturbation strategy differs from the cognitive conflict strategy in a number of ways. The cognitive conflict strategy often creates conflict between students' alternative conceptions and the scientific conceptions intended to be taught. It rejects students' alternative conceptions at the beginning without considering the intermediate conceptions developed during the change process (Maloney & Siegler, 1993). However, the cognitive perturbation approach provides appropriate perturbations to initiate students' conceptual change towards viable intermediate conceptions, which are more scientific than their preconceptions, before suddenly reaching scientific conceptions (Li et al., 2006). In addition, the classroom contexts in which students would immerse determine the types of perturbations necessary for initiating conceptual change.

Li et al. (2006) proposed and implemented a cognitive perturbation approach through a computer-supported dynamics modeling learning environment. In this qualitative study of a single group of elementary science students' conceptual change they investigated in particular the progression of elementary science students' conceptual knowledge in the topic of evaporation. However, the effectiveness of this strategy in the presence of a controlled group in a classical conceptual change learning model has not yet been investigated at any educational level. Therefore, a study is needed on the effectiveness of a cognitive perturbation strategy in relation to cognitive conflict strategy to contribute knowledge to the theory of conceptual change in science learning.

Studies (e.g., Bao & Redish, 2006; Lasry et al., 2011) showed that students' responses to physics conceptual multiple-choice test, like the Force Concept Inventory (FCI), are neither consistent nor completely random. Similarly, students lack strong confidence and do not have a firm stand on their conceptual understanding of EM concepts because of the abstract relations existing in the concepts (Chabay & Sherwood, 2006). In addition, several undergraduate students scored low marks in conceptual diagnostic tests of EM (Dega et al., 2012; Finkelstein, 2005; Planinic, 2006). Consequently, these low scoring students failed to change their alternative conceptions with the cognitive conflict strategy (Limon, 2001; Zohar & Aharon-Kravetsky, 2005). The reason is that students' responses to EM conceptual tests/questions are inconsistent (Dega et al., 2012). Thus, it may be difficult to make students dissatisfied with their alternative conceptions and set them into a state of cognitive conflict because of unstable students' alternative conceptions of the difficult conceptual areas of EM.

Therefore, the purpose of the cognitive perturbation approach is different from that of the cognitive conflict approach. The cognitive conflict strategy of the classical conceptual change starts with conflict and then rejects alternative conceptions. However, to initiate conceptual change with the cognitive perturbation strategy, the students are gradually provided appropriate perturbation from their preconceptions towards scientifically more viable intermediate conceptions before they are guided to scientific conceptions. Hence, in this strategy, the students are not suddenly directed to face the scientific conceptions and engage in cognitive conflict with their alternative conceptions. These facts have contributed to the current prevalent perspective that views conceptual change as a gradual process (evolutionary) rather than a sudden shift of theory (revolutionary) (Vosniadou, 1999). Therefore, it is due to the aforementioned points that the cognitive perturbation approach (Li et al., 2006) is believed to be used to achieve the desired conceptual change in selected conceptual areas of EM.

Research Question

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The Problem
  4. Simulations
  5. Cognitive Conflict Approach
  6. Cognitive Perturbation Approach
  7. Research Question
  8. Methodology
  9. Results
  10. Discussion
  11. Conclusions
  12. Recommendations for Future Study
  13. References
  14. Supporting Information

It is believed that the two competing strategies in this study—the cognitive conflict and cognitive perturbation—incorporating with appropriate EM interactive simulations may enhance conceptual change in a manner where their effects are investigated. Thus, the research question of this study is: How significant is conceptual change through cognitive perturbation using simulations (CPS) as compared to cognitive conflict using simulations (CCS) in the concepts of electric potential and energy (EPE) and electromagnetic induction (EMI)? Exploring this question will clarify the field's understanding both of simulation design as well as fundamental issues about the nature of conceptual change theory.

Methodology

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The Problem
  4. Simulations
  5. Cognitive Conflict Approach
  6. Cognitive Perturbation Approach
  7. Research Question
  8. Methodology
  9. Results
  10. Discussion
  11. Conclusions
  12. Recommendations for Future Study
  13. References
  14. Supporting Information

Quasi-Experimental Design

This study employed a quasi-experimental design in which undergraduate first year physics students' conceptual change in selected conceptual areas of EM were investigated by supporting their learning in the context of a university in Ethiopia. The students' learning was supported by two constructivist learning approaches, the CCS and the CPS, in which their effects were compared. In a quasi-experiment, comparisons are possible because of natural occurring treatment groups that are fairly clear cut, though not set up for research purposes (Punch, 2009). The first year students enrolled at the Physics Department were assigned to two lab groups by the department. Accordingly, these two lab groups were taken as naturally occurring treatment groups. This means there was no random selection of individuals to the groups, but the researcher had control over when to measure outcome variables (pre- and post-tests) in relation to exposure to the independent variables (the CPS and CCS). In addition, the researcher had statistical control over the variables with analysis of covariance (ANCOVA). Thus, a quasi-experimental design was appropriately chosen to study the students' conceptual change and compare the effects of the two constructivist supportive approaches.

Sample

The research sample included 45 undergraduate first year physics students (aged between 18 and 23) who were registered for the course EM in the year 2011 at the selected university in Ethiopia. The naturally existing two lab groups for the course were randomly assigned into CCS and CPS classes.

In the universities in Ethiopia, students can select programs (fields of study) of their interest based on their preparatory schools backgrounds which usually are either natural or social science backgrounds. The universities use Higher Education Admission Scores (HEAS) as a criterion for assigning students to programs. Students who are allowed to join the department of physics are those from the natural science stream of the preparatory school.

However, currently, students who excelled preparatory school physics and have a strong academic background do not want to study physics at university level. This is due to the scarcity of job opportunities in the industrial sector which leaves almost only physics teaching as a viable alternative career path (Semela, 2010). Hence, students from the natural science stream mostly opt to study engineering, medicine and other health related fields as their first choice and non-physics related programs like, biology and chemistry as their second choice. Consequently, most students are being assigned to the department of physics without a choice. This imposition is mainly due to the current higher demand for physics teachers than other science teachers in schools in the country. The other reason is the current government strategic plan that stresses the importance of science and technology in which universities are expected to enroll 70% of their students in science and technology programs (Ministry of Education, 2008).

Instrument

A modified Diagnostic Exam of Electricity and Magnetism (DEEM) developed by Marx (1998) was employed as the research instrument. The original DEEM is a diagnostic test of 66 items in which each item measures conceptual knowledge of a particular concept. The correct responses in the DEEM represent answers commonly accepted by experts (scientific conceptions) concerning EM concepts while the distracters are based on students' most common alternative conceptions of those concepts. Its purposes are to measure overall achievement and progress of individual students and to measure the effectiveness of a particular learning approach in EM (Marx, 1998).

The DEEM was modified and adapted and used as pre-test and post-test in relation to the contents of the two conceptual areas of EM selected for this study. Some questions in the conceptual areas were selected from the CSEM (Maloney et al., 2001) and from another test, the Diagnostic Test of Students' Ideas in Electromagnetism (DTSIEM), developed by Saglam and Millar (2004) and then added to the modified DEEM. Thus, the modified DEEM have fewer main items but more subordinate items per conceptual area based on the extent of conceptual areas. It was accepted that, in so doing, a more detailed study of a smaller number of conceptual areas would be facilitated (Planinic, 2006). Thus, the DEEM was modified to 30 multiple choice questions with five options each. Out of these conceptual questions, 16 were from the EPE and 14 were from the EMI concepts. The EPE included questions 1–14 and 17–18 while the EMI part included questions 15–16 and 19–30 (see Table 1). A sample of this test is given in the Supporting Information as “A Sample of the Modified DEEM.”

Table 1. Contents of the modified DEEM
Item No.EPE Conceptual Area
1, 2Motion and energy of an electric charge in a uniform field
3–7Electric potential of point charges
17, 18Electric potential of two point charges system
8–11Electric potential energy of two point charges system
12–14Equipotential lines, electric field, electric potential energy, and work
Item NoEMI Conceptual Area
15,16Induced current due to changing area of a loop
19–22, 26Induced current due to motion of a loop in a magnetic field
23, 24Induced current due to a non-uniform magnetic field and due to motion of a coil
25Induced current due to relative motion of a magnet and a coil
27–30Magnetic flux and induced Emf

Ethical Considerations

The research participants were treated as autonomous individuals whose decisions on whether or not to participate were respected. The participants' permission was requested along with the department's support before data collection commenced. The students were informed that the research test scores were confidential and would have no impact on their classroom assessment. In addition, a request for ethical clearance from Ethical Review Committee of the Institute for Science and Technology Education at the University of South Africa was made and approval was granted.

Issues of Trustworthiness

Efforts were made to address trustworthiness of the data collection method. Thus, the issues of the validity and the reliability, and some assumptions and mechanisms in the study were addressed.

Validity and Reliability

The validity and reliability of the modified DEEM as a research tool were checked. A pilot test was conducted to contextualize the test items and to assure validity and reliability of the modified version in this particular context. Face and content validity of the test were verified by three experienced lecturers in this field in the Department of Physics at the selected university. They were requested to ensure that the essential concepts in EPE and EMI are covered so that the test is valid to determine the students' conceptual understanding in the chosen two broad conceptual areas of EM. In addition, the reliability of the test was checked using the Kuder Richardson-21 estimation (KR-21 = 0.87), which was an acceptable value for both individual and group testing (Ding & Beichner, 2009).

Assumptions and Mechanisms for Reducing Contamination Threat

Contamination is defined as the process whereby an intervention intended for members of one group of a study is received by members of another group (Howe, Keogh-Brown, Miles, & Bachmann, 2007). In short, it is the sharing of information among the treatment groups. Therefore, contamination or diffusion can be categorized under the transmission model of information sharing.

Assumptions

Diffusion is most likely to occur when an intervention is perceived as beneficial. For example, if the outcome of the process of intervention is included in a classroom examination for grading, it would be eagerly and frequently discussed outside the classroom between the students of the two other groups, which was not the case in this study. In addition, simple interventions like recalling or recognition of information which are obvious to the members of the different groups are most likely to lead to contamination.

Complex and multifaceted interventions, on the other hand, are less prone to contamination because they cannot easily be transferred from one participant to another (Howe et al., 2007; Keogh-Brown et al., 2007). Alternative conception, for instance, is very stable and cannot be removed by simple transmission of information or by the transmission model of learning. Thus, conceptual change is a complex process that needs insight and intervention (Planinic, 2007), and cannot be effected through information sharing between students by itself (Baser & Geban, 2007; Dykstra et al., 1992; Hake, 1998). Thus, conceptual change learning that involves the transformation of alternative conceptions into scientific conceptions on the bases of the constructivist learning model cannot be attained simply by students' information sharing (transmission model of learning). Although students may share information after the class, they cannot repeat the conceptual change learning environment provided in the class. Hence, negligible error due to interference of data was assumed.

Mechanisms

In this study, the students were not aware to which class they were allocated; either the CCS or CPS class. The conceptual topics presented to both groups of students and the simulations used during the treatments were the same. Also, the way the students were grouped in each class in order to share computers were similar. The students were interested in the simulations and indicated that the simulations helped them in their learning. Also, they considered themselves fortunate as they were taught by using only computer simulations. As a result, the students' discussions outside the class were possibly about the simulations and not about the concepts. This means that the design of the interventions was imperceptible for contamination.

Classical conceptual change has limitations for students learning of complex concepts (Duit & Treagust, 2003; Li et al., 2006). The support provided by the teacher (the cognitive perturbation) was done at appropriate junctures during the learning process in the classroom. This support varied from group to group, based on their contextual needs within the experimental class. Thus, it was believed that simple arbitrarily talk of the students to each other about the concepts or their sharing of information outside the classroom had an insignificant effect on the treatments as the initiation of the supportive approaches was done by the teacher.

Therefore, based on assumptions proposed and the efforts made, it was believed that contamination had an insignificant effect on the students' conceptual change.

Data Analyses

Analysis of Covariance

Analysis of covariance was used on the test quantitative data to determine if there was a significant difference between the treatments on the modified DEEM post-test scores, with pre-test scores as covariate, and to examine the effectiveness of the CPS in comparison with the CCS.

Hake's Average Normalized Gain

The average normalized gain 〈g〉 is the average actual gain [<%post>–<%pre>] divided by the maximum possible average gain [100%—<%pre>], where the angle brackets indicate the class averages (Hake, 1998). To characterize and compare students' conceptual change of both treatment groups, Hake's average normalized gains [0, 1] from pre- to post-scores were analyzed. In physics education research, normalized change (〈g〉) (Hake, 1998) characterizes students' scores in survey of conceptual tests as: 〈g〉 ≥ 0.7—High, 0.3 ≤ 〈g〉<0.7—Medium, and 〈g〉<0.3—low. Hence, in this study, these three levels categorization of average normalized gain was used to characterize students' conceptual change.

The Selected Simulations

The selected simulations for EPE and EMI concepts were Charges and Fields (Figure S1.1 in the Supporting Information Characteristics of the Simulations) and Faraday's Electromagnetic Lab (Figure S1.2 in the Supporting Information Characteristics of the Simulations), respectively. Based on the contents of the concepts selected for this study, these simulations were selected from http://PhET.colorado.edu online free distribution. The same interactive simulations were chosen for both CPS and CCS classes to support the students' learning in the concepts of EPE and EMI. These simulations were believed to support and make students interactive in their learning of the selected concepts. “Characteristics of the Simulations” are detailed in the Supporting Information.

Treatments

Though the supportive approaches for both CCS and CPS classes were different, the same content was taught to both classes by the same instructor (researcher). In their first session before treatment (2 hours), all the students were instructed how to use interactive simulation software. Following the instruction, students in both control and experimental classes were divided into four groups each, comprising five to six students per group. The way the students were grouped in order to share computers were similar for both classes. Each group was assigned to a computer and was required to use interactive physics simulations selected to suit the conceptual areas of EM meant for the study. Then, both control and experimental classes were separately treated for two sessions per week (the duration of each session was 2 hours) for two consecutive weeks.

The CCS Class

The cognitive conflict strategy was used with selected physics interactive simulations for the learning of students in the control group. The simulations suited the conceptual areas for intervention. The identified alternative conceptions were presented under the topic of a session or a conceptual area. This means that the students' existing ideas about the concepts under intervention were made explicit and were then directly challenged. The intention was to create cognitive conflict in the students and to make them dissatisfied with their alternative conceptions and to increase the status of scientific conceptions. With this in mind, the researcher requested the students, prior to their interaction with the simulations to present their predictions of the outcomes based on their existing ideas. After they had had the opportunity to do the simulations the students realized that the outcomes turned out to be different from their initial predictions. This discrepancy between predictions and outcomes created cognitive conflict in the students because the discrepant events provided contradicted the students' alternative conceptions and invoked cognitive conflict (Hewson & Hewson, 1984; Baser, 2006). In trying to resolve this conflict, the researcher guided the students to abandon their alternative conceptions and replace them with the scientific conceptions. In doing so, the conditions for the classical conceptual change model, namely dissatisfaction, intelligibility, plausibility, and fruitfulness (Posner et al., 1982) were followed to guide students' learning and to evaluate the level of their conceptual understanding. Details of the students' learning in this class are given in the Supporting Information as “Treatment of CPS Class.”

The CPS Class

In the experimental class there were various reasons for using cognitive perturbation with interactive simulations as a supportive intervention. Firstly it was supposed to reduce the number of students who failed to change their alternative conceptions. This was done by supporting them gradually, by posing cognitive perturbation, to move step by step from their preconceptions towards scientific conceptions. This provision of cognitive perturbation by the researcher was based on the status of the students' explanations of the simulations. In addition, the students were constantly challenged by the researcher with questions, which were based on their explanations of concepts in the EM interactive simulations. This was due to the contention that cognitive perturbation would help the students' learning towards the forming of intermediate and more scientific conceptions than their preconceptions. The second reason was the lack of sensitivity of the cognitive conflict approach towards non-cognitive elements and social contexts (Li et al., 2006). To overcome this limitation, the learning situation in the classroom setting was designed to provide for both individual and social involvement of students. For this purpose the researcher provided pedagogical social support and cognitive perturbations to students in addition to the student–student interactions in groups. However, he did not provide the students with immediate solutions or direct them to follow a predetermined path of learning during the interaction with the simulations. Hence, the researcher's facilitation was focused on working with rather than against the students' alternative conceptions in the process of their learning with the help of the interactive simulations.

Unlike in the CCS class, the students in the CPS class were not asked to predict the outcomes of the simulations. The students' conceptions of EM concepts were supposed to be inconsistently diversified. In addition, their conceptual knowledge was so low that they lacked conceptual resources (capacities) to engage themselves in the classroom interaction. Thus, instead of attempting to set the students of the CPS class into cognitive conflict, the researcher used a mechanism of gradually supporting their learning by providing cognitive perturbation at appropriate junctures. Accordingly, the tasks that all the groups of students performed with the help of interactive physics simulations were made to have three phases: the undertaking phase, the presentation phase, and the refining phase (Supporting Information “Treatment of CPS Class.”).

In the undertaking phase, the students were asked to run the simulation and do the task given to them in groups. In this part, each group of students was given the chance to discuss (student–student discussion) the tasks they performed in the interactive simulations.

In the presentation phase, the students reflected on their understanding of the concepts. During the students' reflections, the researcher valued their ideas to motivate them in their progressive learning. This phase was found to be an appropriate situation to notice their learning (understanding) gap and then provide them cognitive perturbation based on their contextual difficulties to support their learning towards the intended scientific conception. In this study, it was mostly given in the form of a question and was believed to rectify the students' misunderstanding.

In the refining part, the students were expected to incorporate the teacher's comments and use the cognitive perturbations as a scaffold in their construction of conceptual knowledge towards the scientific conceptions.

Therefore, the CCS and the CPS classes differed only in the support the researcher was offering: the cognitive conflict strategy for the CCS class and the cognitive perturbation strategy for the CPS class.

Results

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The Problem
  4. Simulations
  5. Cognitive Conflict Approach
  6. Cognitive Perturbation Approach
  7. Research Question
  8. Methodology
  9. Results
  10. Discussion
  11. Conclusions
  12. Recommendations for Future Study
  13. References
  14. Supporting Information

The effects of the CPS and CCS used to support the students learning are presented and compared. The pre-intervention results obtained were used as baseline to compare the students' conceptual change after the intervention.

Effectiveness of Cognitive Perturbation Using Simulations

The scores of the CCS and CPS classes were compared by using one-way between groups ANCOVA on the modified DEEM post-test scores, with pre-test scores as covariate. Initially, 45 students wrote the DEEM pre-test while 40 students wrote the post-test and 39 students participated in both pre- and post-tests (Supporting Information Table S1). ANCOVA was found useful in a situation with small sample size and only small or medium effect size (Pallant, 2007), which is very common in quasi-experimental education research.

In relation to the quasi-experimental design of this study, the main assumptions for using one-way ANCOVA were also checked. In other words, the outputs from ANCOVA were assessed by taking the following four conditions into account, namely descriptive statistics, measuring the covariate prior to the intervention, measuring the reliability of the covariate and the Levene's test of equality of error variances.

First, the descriptive statistics of the students' scores were analyzed and presented (see Table 2).

Table 2. Descriptive statistics of students' score on the DEEM test
ClassPre-InterventionPost-Intervention
NMeanSDNMeanSD
  1. Dependent variable: Post-DEEM test score.

CCS2225.777.151931.5610.51
CPS2324.648.332038.679.88
Total4525.197.713935.2110.68

The second condition fulfilled for using ANCOVA was measuring the covariate prior to the intervention or experimental manipulation (Pallant, 2007). It was done to reduce interaction effects between the covariate (pre-test score) and the dependent variable (post-test score). The third condition fulfilled before running ANCOVA was measuring the reliability of the covariate. Accordingly, the reliability of the DEEM pre-test was checked using the KR-21 estimation (0.87), which was an acceptable value for both individual and group testing. The fourth condition needed prior to running ANCOVA was checking the Levene's test of equality of error variances (Pallant, 2007). This condition was checked which showed that the assumption of equality of variance was not violated because the significance value was 0.98 which was >0.05 (see Table 3). In other words, homogeneity of error variances was not violated because the variability of scores for each of the groups was equal.

Table 3. Levene's test of equality of error variances across groups
Fdf1df2Sig.
  1. Dependent variable: Post-DEEM test score.

0.0011370.98

Hence, ANCOVA was conducted to compare the effectiveness of the two different interventions designed to change students' alternative conceptions in the concepts of EPE and EMI. The independent variable was the type of intervention (CCS, CPS) and the dependent variable was students' scores on post-DEEM test. The students' scores on pre-DEEM test was used as the covariate in this analysis. After adjusting for the pre-intervention scores using ANCOVA, there was a significant difference between the two intervention groups on the post-test scores on the DEEM test (1, 36) = 4.66, p = 0.04, partial eta squared = 0.12 (see Table 4). This showed that the cognitive perturbation approach was statistically and practically more significant than the cognitive conflict approach in changing the students' alternative conceptions to the scientific conceptions.

Table 4. Between subjects effects: Tests between the CCS and CPS effects
SourceType III Sum of SquaresdfMean SquareFSig.Partial Eta Squared
  1. Dependent variable: Post-DEEM test score.

Corrected model496.78(a)2248.392.330.110.12
Intercept3435.2313435.2532.250.000.47
Pre-DEEM5.3615.360.050.820.00
Class496.751496.754.660.040.12
Error3834.8936106.53   
Total52672.5339    
Corrected total4331.6638    

The effect size, which indicates how much of the variance in the dependent variable is explained by independent variable, is estimated by partial eta squared value as ≥0.01 small, ≥0.06 medium, and ≥0.14 large (Cohen, 1992; Sink & Stroh, 2006). Accordingly, medium practical (educational) significance near the cutoff of large partial eta squared value was estimated as shown by the effect size (see Table 4).

In addition, the average normalized gain of scores was found greater in the CPS class than in the CCS class in the DEEM (see Table 5). This also showed that the CPS approach was more effective than the CCS to change the students' alternative conceptions.

Table 5. Average normalized gain
 CCS ClassCPS Class
DEEM Score〈g〉 = 0.05〈g〉 = 0.17

Discussion

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The Problem
  4. Simulations
  5. Cognitive Conflict Approach
  6. Cognitive Perturbation Approach
  7. Research Question
  8. Methodology
  9. Results
  10. Discussion
  11. Conclusions
  12. Recommendations for Future Study
  13. References
  14. Supporting Information

The output from ANCOVA was assessed on post-test DEEM scores to compare the effectiveness of two different constructivist learning approaches (cognitive conflict and cognitive perturbation) by incorporating with EM simulations to enhance students' conceptual change in the concepts of EPE and EMI. A significant difference between the two interventions groups on the post-test scores were obtained in favoring the CPS (see Table 4). In addition, the average normalized gain of scores was found greater in the CPS class than in the CCS class. This also showed that the CPS was more effective than the CCS in the students' learning of the concepts (see Table 5). The results from ANCOVA and the average normalized gain for this study supplemented each other which again implied that the CPS approach was more effective than the CCS approach to change the students' alternative conceptions. Moreover, medium practical (educational) significance near the cutoff of large partial eta squared value was estimated as shown by the effect size (Table 4).

However, the normalized average gains of both classes were less than 0.3, which was found in the low level according to categorization of the students' understanding in physics learning (Hake, 1998; Coletta, Phillips, & Steinert, 2007). This means that, although the CPS approach was statistically effective in comparison with the CCS, there was no significant conceptual knowledge gain attained by the students. This was because the average post-test scores in both classes were less than 40% which was found in the low score level according to concentration analysis categorization of the students' responses (Bao & Redish, 2001).

There are possible reasons for these low average normalized gains of the students' scores. The students' pre-intervention conceptual knowledge level in the two conceptual areas was low (see Table 2) which showed their inexperience in the concepts, which might have limited their interactive engagement in the learning of the concepts. In addition, the short period of 8 hours dedicated to the intervention of two broad conceptual areas of physics might have contributed to the low learning gains in conceptual knowledge as a conceptual progression is complex and takes much time. Moreover, as discussed in the Sample Section, most of the students assigned to study physics are those less scoring who lack interest to study physics. This can also partly explain their poor performance in the DEEM tasks. Although the implementation of group work, where five to six students share a computer, might have advantages for concepts learning, it was considered disadvantageous. Hands-on learning might have been limited as all the group members could not run the simulation at the same a time.

The average score of the students on the DEEM pre-test was approximately 25% (see Table 2). This showed that the students' conceptual knowledge in the concepts of EPE and EMI was low as it was found in the low score state according to the study by Bao and Redish (2001) on the quantitative assessment of student states.

Therefore, this study showed that, for students with low conceptual knowledge which was indicated by their inappropriate and counterproductive response in conceptual areas, like the EPE and EMI, the CPS is more effective than the CCS to promote conceptual learning. This result corresponds with those studies (Limon, 2001; Zohar & Aharon-Kravetsky, 2005), which indicated that the cognitive conflict approach hinders learning progress of students with low academic achievements. In addition, students' responses to scientific conceptions are influenced by their prior knowledge level (Chinn & Brewer, 1993).

Earlier studies on students' conceptual change compared constructivist learning approaches with non-constructivist learning approaches (Baser, 2006; Baser & Geban, 2007; Rosen & Salomon, 2007) but this study compared the CCS and CPS, which were based on constructivist theory of learning. Although the students in the CCS and CPS were treated differently (see Supporting Information “Treatment of CCS Class” and “Treatment of CPS Class”), the concepts taught and the simulations used were the same in both classes. In the CCS class, students' conceptions were demarcated as either alternative conceptions or scientific conceptions. In the CPS class, however, intermediate progressive conceptions which developed during the learning process were considered in order to support them in changing their alternative conceptions (Maloney & Siegler, 1993). This helped to identify the fact that students in the CCS class more likely failed to make sense of the difference between alternative and scientific conceptions in the complex concepts of EPE and EMI and maintained their alternative conceptions after instruction. In addition, classroom social contexts were considered to support the students in the CPS class (see Supporting Information “Treatment of CPS Class.”).

Thus, although this study was not intended to settle the argument between the revolutionary and evolutionary theories of conceptual change, the students' conceptual knowledge was improved more by the cognitive perturbation approach than by the cognitive conflict approach which was in favor of evolutionary theory of conceptual change. Hence, for students with low scores and inappropriate and counterproductive responses to conceptual questions, conceptual change that involves an evolutionary (gradually step by step) process of learning is found more appropriate than conceptual change that involves a revolutionary (radical) process of learning. This is the main contribution of this study to the theory of conceptual change.

The computer interactive physics simulations were intended to engage the students in both CCS and CPS classes into interactions and to help them to visualize and understand the abstract concepts and phenomena in EM. However, their low level conceptual knowledge impeded their learning not to show significantly progressed conceptual change because their average normalized gains were low (less than 0.3 in both classes; see Table 5). This showed that prior conceptual knowledge influences students' interactive engagement in concepts learning.

The limitation of this study was that, due to the length of the study, some of the students who were available during the pre-intervention data collection became unavailable or unwilling to participate in the post-intervention data collection. Moreover, there were absentees during the intervention that could affect the result of the study.

The significance of this study is that it extends the knowledge base from the prevalent classical conceptual change (cognitive conflict approach) to the emerging cognitive perturbation approach in undergraduate students' learning of the concepts in EM. The incorporation of suitable interactive physics simulations with learning strategies may be useful to develop insight into their effectiveness in enhancing conceptual change. Therefore, based on the above-mentioned points, the physics education research community may benefit from the cognitive perturbation approach through interactive simulations used to address conceptual change.

In addition, in the context of Ethiopia, most students who are majoring in physics become teachers in secondary schools after completion of their university study. Consequently, addressing these prospective teachers' alternative conceptions by using an effective conceptual change strategy is believed to positively influence their teaching in high schools. Physics curriculum experts may also benefit when designing and/or modifying the curriculum by emphasizing concepts learning in physics. Also, teacher education colleges may use the results of this study to enhance teachers' professional development in relation to concept learning. Moreover, the strategies designed and the results obtained in this study could be used as an input for school science teachers and university physics instructors in developing and formulating syllabi that can promote conceptual change.

This study was limited to cognitive perspectives of conceptual change. Although conceptual change research has cognitive and affective theoretical perspectives (Treagust & Duit, 2008), the affective perspective of conceptual change, which examines students' interests or motivations regarding a concept or a subject being investigated (Pintrich, Marx, & Boyle, 1993), was not explicitly examined. In addition, this study was limited to two conceptual areas in EM, namely the concepts in EPE and EMI. Thus, its finding may not be generalized to other physics concepts.

Conclusions

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The Problem
  4. Simulations
  5. Cognitive Conflict Approach
  6. Cognitive Perturbation Approach
  7. Research Question
  8. Methodology
  9. Results
  10. Discussion
  11. Conclusions
  12. Recommendations for Future Study
  13. References
  14. Supporting Information

The following conclusions were drawn based on the results of this study.

  • For students with inappropriate and counterproductive responses (low prior conceptual knowledge) in a given complex conceptual area of physics, the CPS approach is more progressive than the CCS approach to facilitate conceptual learning.
  • Inappropriate and counterproductive students' ideas, which may be indicated by their low prior conceptual knowledge, have a negative impact on conceptual change because they limit students' interactive engagement in the learning of concepts.

Recommendations for Future Study

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The Problem
  4. Simulations
  5. Cognitive Conflict Approach
  6. Cognitive Perturbation Approach
  7. Research Question
  8. Methodology
  9. Results
  10. Discussion
  11. Conclusions
  12. Recommendations for Future Study
  13. References
  14. Supporting Information

This study has covered only selected areas of physics concepts, the concepts of EPE and EMI. The selection of the topics was largely motivated by the conceptual difficulties of these concepts in the domain of electricity and magnetism. Thus, future research could follow a similar design of the study using different physics topics to have a better idea of the two supportive approaches.

It was believed that five to six students sharing a computer impeded their learning, as individuals were limited to run the simulations one at a time. Thus, for effective use of simulations that may improve the learning gain, the group size needs to be reduced; otherwise, a situation that may enable each student to use a computer to run simulations need to be facilitated.

In addition, future study may allocate more intervention time to increase the students' learning gain, as conceptual change is a complex process that consumes time. It is also recommended to investigate only one conceptual area rather than two conceptual areas to allow for more in-depth and progressive investigation.

The results from the DEEM instrument are likely used in a limited way through comparison of average scores using ANCOVA and average pre- to post-normalized gains. However, such an approach might have missed some valuable information in relation to the students' learning progression. Consequently, a future study would have to consider qualitative data during the interventions to have information on the students' dynamics of learning progression. Thus, mixed methods that may encompass a study of students' learning progression during the interventions would contribute more understanding to evolutionary approach of conceptual change perspective.

In addition, the DEEM test consists of multiple-choice single-response questions which limit students to pick one answer. Thus the existence of only one of the conceptions can be measured. However, to get information about the learning progressions (intermediate conceptions developed during instruction), multiple-choice multiple-response conceptual questions (questions consisting of one correct expert conception and a few incorrect or partially correct student conceptions) are believed to obtain detailed information on students' conceptual states (Bao & Redish, 2006).

The results of this study are based on a small sample size of undergraduate physics students. Although the sample size of N = 45 is sufficient for the statistical methodologies employed in the quasi-experimental design, it will be useful to see this experiment replicated with more subjects and across multiple populations. In addition, this quasi-experimental designed study is limited to only single class for each condition of conceptual change approach. Hence, future study can use multiple classes for each condition to have more reliable and inferential results to similar contexts.

The conceptual change study reported in this study considered only cognitive perspectives of students' conceptions. However, conceptual change is a complex process that needs also affective perspective of students' conceptions. Hence, an inclusive multi-perspective conceptual change research that includes cognitive and affective perspectives of students' conceptions needs to be undertaken in order to have more understanding of the theory.

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  6. Cognitive Perturbation Approach
  7. Research Question
  8. Methodology
  9. Results
  10. Discussion
  11. Conclusions
  12. Recommendations for Future Study
  13. References
  14. Supporting Information
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Supporting Information

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The Problem
  4. Simulations
  5. Cognitive Conflict Approach
  6. Cognitive Perturbation Approach
  7. Research Question
  8. Methodology
  9. Results
  10. Discussion
  11. Conclusions
  12. Recommendations for Future Study
  13. References
  14. Supporting Information

Additional Supporting Information may be found in the online version of this article at the publisher's web-site.

FilenameFormatSizeDescription
tea21096-sm-SuppData-S1.doc149KSupporting Information.
tea21096-sm-SuppFig-S1.docx155K

Figure S1.1. Charges and fields interactive simulation.

Figure S1.2. Faraday's electromagnetic lab.

tea21096-sm-SuppFig-S2.doc1115K

Figure S2.1. Electric potential and equipotential curves around a positive charge that the students were guided to draw with simulation after their prediction.

Figure S2.2. Electric potential and equipotential curves around a negative charge that the students were guided to draw with simulation after their prediction.

Figure S2.3. The students were made to draw electric potential and equipotential curves around several charges with simulation.

Figure S2.4. Faraday's Law of induction shown by simulated generator to dissatisfy students' alternative conceptions.

tea21096-sm-SuppFig-S3.doc1353K

Figure S3.1. Students were guided to manipulate electric potential of a positive charge and equipotential curves.

Figure S3.2. Students were guided to manipulate electric potential of a negative charge and equipotential curves.

Figure S3.3. Students' manipulation of electric potential of two point changes.

Figure S3.4. Students' manipulation of equipotential lines and electric field lines.

Figure S3.5. Magnetic field strength of a bar magnet measured with the field meter.

Figure S3.6. Relating magnetic field strength variation with the deflection of the voltmeter.

Figure S3.7. Relating magnetic field strength variation with the deflection of the voltmeter.

Figure S3.8. Hydroelectric generator simulation used for refining students understanding of induction.

tea21096-sm-0001-SupTab-S1.doc88KTable S1. Pre- and post-intervention scores of the students in the CCS and CPS classes.

Please note: Wiley Blackwell is not responsible for the content or functionality of any supporting information supplied by the authors. Any queries (other than missing content) should be directed to the corresponding author for the article.