Impact of a representational approach on students’ reasoning and conceptual understanding in learning mechanics
Sutopo, Liliasari and Waldrip, B, Impact of a representational approach on students' reasoning and conceptual understanding in learning mechanics, International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 12, (4) pp. 741-765. ISSN 1571-0068 (2012) [Refereed Article]
The aim of this study was to explore whether a representational approach could impact on the scores that measure students’ understanding of mechanics and their ability to reason. The sample consisted of 24 students who were undergraduate, preservice physics teachers in the State University of Malang, Indonesia. The students were asked to represent a claim, provide evidence for it, and then, after further representational manipulations, refinement, discussion, and critical thought, to reflect on and confirm or modify their original case. Data analysis was based on the pretest–posttest scores and students’ responses to relevant phenomena during the course. The results showed that students’ reasoning ability significantly improved with a d-effect size of 2.58 for the technical aspects and 2.51 for the conceptual validity aspects, with the average normalized gain being 0.62 (upper–medium) for the two aspects. Students’ conceptual understanding of mechanics significantly improved with a d-effect size of about 2.50 and an average normalized gain of 0.63. Students’ competence in mechanics shifted significantly from an under competent level to mastery level. This paper addresses statistically previously untested issues in learning mechanics through a representational approach and does this in a culture that is quite different from what has been researched so far using student-generated representational learning as a reasoning tool for understanding and reasoning.