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Efficacy of changing physics misconceptions held by ninth grade students at varying developmental levels through teacher addition of a prediction phase to the learning cycle

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Michael L Oglesby
Abstract:
This study examines the efficacy in correcting student misconceptions about science concepts by using the pedagogical method of asking students to make a prediction in science laboratory lessons for students within pre-formal, transitional, or formal stages of cognitive development. The subjects were students (n = 235) enrolled in ninth grade physical science classes (n=15) in one high school of an urban profile school district. The four freshmen physical science teachers who were part of the study routinely taught the concepts in the study as a part of the normal curriculum during the time of the school year in which the research was conducted. Classrooms representing approximately half of the students were presented with a prediction phase at the start of each of ten learning cycle lesson. The other classrooms were not presented with a prediction phase. Students were pre and post tested using a 40 question instrument based on the Force Concept Inventory augmented with questions on the concepts taught during the period of the study. Students were also tested using the Test of Scientific Reasoning to determine their cognitive developmental level. Results showed 182 of the students to be cognitively pre-formal, 50 to be transitional, and only 3 to be cognitively formal. There were significantly higher gains (p < .05) for the formal group over the transitional group and for the transitional group over the Pre-formal group. However, there were not significantly higher gains (p > .05) for the total students having a prediction phase compared to those not having a prediction phase. Neither were there significant gains (p > .05) within the pre-formal group or within the transitional group. There were too few students within the formal group for meaningful results.

Students were also tested using the Test of Scientific Reasoning to determine their cognitive developmental level. Results showed 182 of the students to be cognitively pre-formal, 50 to be transitional, and only 3 to be cognitively formal. There were significantly higher gains (p < .05) for the formal group over the transitional group and for the transitional group over the Pre-formal group. However, there were not significantly higher gains (p > .05) for the total students having a prediction phase compared to those not having a prediction phase. Neither were there significant gains (p > .05) within the pre-formal group or within the transitional group. There were too few students within the formal group for meaningful results. This abstract of 295 words is approved as to form and content. (J)AAA Ul*b(^ A. Louis Odom Associate Professor, Science Education School of Education

The undersigned appointed by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies have examined a dissertation titled "Efficacy of Changing Physics Misconceptions Held by Ninth Grade Students Through Teacher Imposition of a Prediction Phase to the Learning Cycle," presented by Michael L Oglesby, candidate for the Doctor of Philosophy degree, and hereby certify that in their opinion it is worthy of acceptance. RMQ vd&*- (i-^-of A. Louis Odom, PhD Date School of Education Michael Kruger, PhD ^ Date Physics Department Susan Adler, PhD Date School of Education -3k tfrflsoio ^^/f-ff? Sue Thompson, PhD Date School of Education 4

CONTENTS ABSTRACT jj ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS x INTRODUCTION 1 Background of the Study 1 Need for the Study 3 Purpose of the Study 7 Research Questions 10 Definition of Terms 11 Assumptions Underlying the Study 12 Limitations of the Study 13 Outline of the Research Paper 14 REVIEW OF LITERATURE 17 Introduction 17 History of Traditional Physics Instruction 19 Development of Constructivism in Physics Education 23 The Nature of Misconceptions 31 Deleterious Effects of Holding a Misconception 34 Attempting to Correct Misconceptions about Scientific Principles 35 Identifying That Students Hold a Misconception 38 Examples of Common Misconceptions 42 identification of Misconceptions 50 v

Prolific Use of Elicitation of a Prediction 56 Summary 57 PROPOSED METHODOLOGY 59 Subjects 59 Instruments 63 Procedures 66 Ethical Considerations of the Method 68 Limitations 69 Quantitative Methods 70 RESULTS 77 Introduction 77 Subjects. 78 Test Reliability 80 Data Analysis 91 Summary 110 CONCLUSIONS 111 Introduction 111 Major Findings 114 Educational Implications 117 Summary 117 Suggestions for Additional Research Questions 118 APPENDIX A 119 vi

PERMISSION TO USE THE FORCE CONCEPT INVENTORY (FCI) 119 QUESTIONS ADDED TO MAKE THE PSCT 121 PERMISSION TO USE THE TEST OF FORMAL REASONING 125 LESSON PLANS 127 LESSON PLAN 1: WHAT IS IN AN EMPTY TEST TUBE 128 LESSON PLAN 2: WHAT IS IN THE BUBBLES IN BOILING WATER 132 LESSON PLAN 3: HOW THINGS FALL 135 LESSON PLAN 4: HOW PENDULUMS SWING 138 LESSON PLAN 5: WHAT IS CONSTANT VELOCITY 142 LESSON PLAN 6: HOW ARE FORCE AND VELOCITY RELATED 146 LESSON PLAN 7: HOW ARE VELOCITY AND ACCELERATION RELATED 149 LESSON PLAN 8: CAN OBJECTS AT REST HAVE FORCES ON THEM ..152 LESSON PLAN 9: WHAT IS THE PATH OF AN OBJECT RELEASED FROM A CIRCULAR PATH 156 LESSON PLAN 10: WHAT IS A TRAJECTORY 159 SCHOOL DISTRICT APPROVALS TO CONDUCT RESEARCH 163 SOCIAL SCIENCE INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL 168 INFORMED CONSENT 171 Works Cited 174 VITA 183 VII

TABLES Table Page 1. Structure of the Final Research Subjects Group 80 2. Item Analysis Listed by Item Number 86 3. Item Analysis Sorted by Covariance 88 4. Developmental Level of Students by Teacher 93 5. Paired Two Sample for Means of Pre and Post Test For 22 Questions 94 6. Paired Two Sample for Means of Pre and Post Test For All Questions 95 7. Paired Two Sample for Means of All Pretest Scores v. 22 Pretest Questions 96 8. Paired Two Sample for Means of All Post Test Scores v. 22 Post Test Questions 97 9. Paired Two Sample for Means of Test Scores for 22 Questions for Each Developmental Level 98 10. Paired Two Sample for Means of Test Scores for All Questions for Each Developmental Level 99 11. Compare Means for Student Scores by Developmental Level for 22 Pretest Questions: 100 12. Compare Means for Student Scores by Developmental Level for All Pretest Questions: 100 13. Compare Means for Student Scores by Developmental Level for 22 Post Test Questions: 101 14. Compare Means for Student Scores by Developmental Level for all Post Test Questions: 101 15. Compare Means for Student Scores by Developmental Level for Change on 22 Questions: 103 viii

16. Compare Means for Student Scores by Developmental Level for Change on All Questions: 103 17. Compare Means for Student Scores by Teacher for Change on 22 Questions: 104 18. Compare Means for Student Scores by Teacher for Change on All Questions: 105 19. Two-Sample Test Results of 22 Questions With a Prediction Phase Compared to With No Prediction Phase for the Lesson 107 20. Two-Sample Test Results of All Questions With a Prediction Phase Compared to With No Prediction Phase for the Lesson 107 21. Two-Sample Test Results of 22 Questions By Developmental Level With a Prediction Phase Compared to With No Prediction Phase for the Lesson 108 22. Two-Sample Test Results of All Questions by Developmental Level With a Prediction Phase Compared to With No Prediction Phase for the Lesson 109 23. Test Change Scores for the 3 Cognitively Formal Students 110 ix

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS There have been many people who I would like to thank for helping me in the dissertation process. My committee chair, Dr. Odom has been available from the beginning to help me refine my research direction, help me through the bureaucracy of the University, and provide me with opportunities to participate in research and gain financial assistance. Committee member Dr. Thompson has been a foundation of support and encouragement to me when I needed it. Dr. Kruger committee member and Department Chair of the Physics Department brought a calm sense of peace and the problem solving abilities for which physicists are known as he brought organization from what seemed to be chaos. Dr. Wrobel became a committee member late in the process and I appreciate his willingness to accept this position. I also greatly appreciate my former advisors, Dr. Phillips and Dr. Hilton both of whom have passed away. Both of these men encouraged me early in my science career as an undergraduate and graduate student in physics. I will never forget Dr. Hilton frequently referring to me when I was 18 years old as "Dr. Oglesby," nor will I forget the smile on Dr. Phillip's face as he told me I passed my Master of Science thesis defense. I am thankful for the assistance the administrative staff the School of Education, the School of Graduate Studies, and the School of Arts and Science has given me. I am especially grateful for the financial assistance through the High x

School College Program administered by Ms Clawson-Day under the administration of Dr. Wurrey. I want to thank Dr. Stoddard for initially encouraging me to pursue another degree, for advising me on a degree program, and for getting me started in the degree program. Though she is no longer a committee member, I still appreciate her. Finally, I would like to thank Rita, my wife and best friend. I have known her most of my life and she has always been a constant and unwavering source of encouragement in every aspect of my life. Though I may not be good at expressing it, I profoundly appreciate all of you. XI

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Background of the Study Physics, the science of matter and energy and the interactions of the two, is commonly taught with the use of laboratory experiments in which teachers often ask students to make a prediction of the outcome of an experiment before the experiment is started. In responding to this teacher imposed question of a prediction, students may reveal that they hold misconceptions about the scientific principles being studied. Through conducting the experiment it is hoped that the student will experience and correctly interpret the underlying scientific concept to correctly respond to the scientific question of the lesson (Barrow, 2008). If the correct interpretation differs from the prediction it will be experienced as a discrepant event. As the student cognitively resolves the discrepancy any misconceptions present initially will be replaced in the student's knowledge by a correct understanding of the scientific principles demonstrated by the experiment. This study seeks to test the efficacy of engaging freshmen high school students in the cognitive process of making a prediction in the teaching of selected physics topics typically introduced during the ninth grade. The subjects of the study are ninth grade high school students from an urban profile district (Thompson, Gregg, & Niska, 2004) within a major Midwestern United 1

States metropolitan area. High school students are at a stage of cognitive development in which abstract cognitive structures may be beginning to form (Manning, 1994). Because the stage of cognitive development may relate to the student's ability or willingness to accept change in the understanding of a scientific concept, this study will identify the stage of cognitive development of the participants. In addition to testing for stage of cognitive development all students will be given a pretest to determine which students have a misconception on selected physics principles. The study will then investigate the efficacy for producing change in students' understanding through a learning cycle lesson in which some groups of students are engaged in the cognitive exercise of making a prediction and some groups are not asked to make a prediction. The efficacy of having students make a prediction will then be compared with the stage of development of the participants. For each lesson three orthogonal data sets will be generated: the lesson having or not having a teacher imposed prediction phase; students having or not having a misconception, and the stage of cognitive development of the student. The science and education literature is replete with examples of physics misconceptions commonly held by students (Alparslan, Tekkaya, & Geban, 2003; Hammer, 1996; Smith, diSessa, & Roschelle, 1993 -1994). Many of these commonly held misconceptions are also known to teachers within the school district of the study, to be held by students within the district from prior years. Teachers within the district frequently use constructivist methods in teaching science. These 2

methods include the use of the learning cycle. It is not the intention of the study to investigate the abilities of any teacher or group of teachers, or the efficacy of the learning cycle as a teaching method. The specific intention of the study is to examine if insisting that ninth grade students at various developmental levels make a prediction of the outcome of a learning cycle lesson intended to change misconceptions held by the students is effective in producing that change. Need for the Study From the perspective of the teacher, the time allotted for teaching science in schools is limited (Schoon & Boone, 1998), and the method of requiring students to make a prediction uses part of that time. The use of any time in the limited block of the school day allotted for science deducts from other science activities. With the limited instructional time available for science it becomes important to use science teaching time to maximum benefit of the student's learning. If requiring a prediction is effective in producing correct understanding of scientific principles in students that have held misconceptions then the limited time resource of the science lesson is well invested in using the method of requiring a prediction of the outcome of the lesson's experiment. However, if the prediction exercise is ineffective at changing students' understanding of scientific concepts then its use squanders the precious time resource allocated to teaching science. Ostensibly the purpose of requesting all students to make a prediction is to establish a basis from which students predicting correctly can reinforce and build additional understanding, and from which students predicting incorrectly will 3

experience discordance and change their understanding to conform to correct scientific principles. However this theory of the student becoming discordant through elicitation of a prediction resulting in a change in conceptual understanding has only been tested by treating students as if all had the same cognitive developmental level or as if cognitive developmental level was of no consequence in the teaching method. Since not all students change their conceptual understanding even when required to make a prediction the efficacy of making the prediction in all cases is called to question. Derrick R. Lavoie (1999) has examined the efficacy of making a prediction for tenth grade biology students and found it to be modestly effective at changing conceptual understanding in students. However, although the changes he found were statistically significant over not having a prediction step in the lesson, the final difference still was small with an average difference of less than 2 points out of a posttest total of 20 points. The average difference was already 0.42 points from the pretest before the intervention thus giving an absolute difference of only just over one and a half points. Thus even though compelling students to make a prediction has been shown to be statistically effective in changing conceptual understanding, it seems to lack efficacy in some cases. In requiring students to make a prediction a student could have one of three possible reactions. First, the exercise could result in the student making a prediction that is consistent with current scientific theories. In this instance, the outcome of the experiment should be similar to the prediction and the student's 4

knowledge may be confirmed or reinforced. However, even in the event that the prediction was consistent with the experimental outcome, the student may experience a sense of validation which may result in the student missing other subtleties of the outcome that could reinforce and build upon what was already known by the student as indicated by the prediction. The second result that could occur when a prediction is required from all students is that the student could react by not legitimately engaging in the making of a prediction, but making spurious or superficial remarks for a variety of reasons including attempting to control the class environment through creating a class disruption, or avoiding making a commitment that may be proved wrong. This reaction of requiring a prediction from all students could result in, or indicate the disengagement of the student from the learning process. Additionally as the student disrupts the class the learning of other students may be disrupted. The third result that could occur from compelling a prediction is that the student could make a sincere prediction that is inconsistent with the experimental outcome. Lavoie (1999) found in this case that many of the students became more involved in learning the principle they had incorrectly predicted. With an incorrect prediction the student has the opportunity to retain belief in the fallacious principles that spawned the incorrect prediction, or to change conceptual understanding learning a principle of science that is consistent with current science practice. If the student retains the false belief the student may seek to interpret the experimental outcome incorrectly to accommodate the discrepancy and reinforce prior incorrect 5

understanding of the scientific principles involved, however if the student changes conceptual understanding then learning has taken place and the lesson is successful. All of these three possible reactions to requiring students to cognitively engage in forming a prediction could potentially influence the student's learning of scientific principles. However, it is undetermined if the teacher imposed elicitation of making a prediction is equally effective at all levels of cognitive development found within the ninth grade student population. An ancillary problem with requiring students to make a prediction may result when the teachers presenting the lessons are not thoroughly knowledgeable with the science underlying the lesson. Students may respond in a manner consistent with scientific theory, but not explicitly consistent with a response expected by the teacher having the limited knowledge of the concept. In this event, the method of engaging the student in making a prediction may result in a student's properly held scientific understanding being challenged during the lesson by a well-meaning teacher attempting to teach related concepts that should actually be taught to reinforce the preexisting knowledge. Thus, with using the method of requiring a prediction from students, the teacher must be more knowledgeable in the broader context of scientific theory and practice. This broader understanding of science is often missing from the educational and experiential background of science teachers (Schoon & Boone, 1998; Lindgren & Bleicher, 2005). 6

The background of students also potentially adversely affects the relationship to learning within the context of presenting a response to a request for a prediction. Students possess diverse backgrounds giving them varied strategies affecting their own cognitive processes. Students have the ability to regulate their own learning and may have adjusted their cognitive development to conform to social expectations of peers and adults (Annevirta & Vauras, 2006). Engaging students in making a prediction may encourage activation of the social environment limiting some students' prediction to a response conformed to the responses or expectations of their peers. Additionally, in the social environment some students may self regulate their cognitive development to limit their acceptance of additional or changed understanding of a science principle to what they have heard from peers as a result of the prediction. Purpose of the Study Engaging students in making a prediction of the outcome of an experiment is so ingrained in the teaching of science that some authors include the method as a normative practice, but offer no rationale for the activity (Donaldson & Odom, 2001; Hitt, 2005; Levitt, 2002). Other authors incorporate requesting students to make a prediction with some limited rationale as an effective teaching method, but include it in such a way that it is assumed it is valuable for student learning without an offer of evidence of the efficacy of the technique (Alparslan, Tekkaya, & Geban, 2003; Balci, Cakiroglu, & Tekkaya, 2006). Still other authors recognize they are adding an element to the teaching process as they add the prediction exercise to their 7

methods, and they imply various rationales for the activity (Blank, 2000; Guisasola, Almudi, & Zubimendi, 2004; Lavoie, 1999; Odom & Kelly, 2001). The instructional method of having students make a prediction is used throughout all levels of the educational process, from elementary (Blank, 2000) to post secondary (Lindgren & Bleicher, 2005). High school freshmen are at the age where abstract cognition begins to take place (Manning, 1994) and may benefit from the higher order thinking that the learning cycle accesses. However, some ninth grade students have not reached, or will not reach the level of abstract thinking and are more concrete in their thinking. These concrete thinkers also benefit from the hands-on approach of the learning cycle and can experience increased cognitive development as a result of self-regulation and social discourse (Odom & Kelly, 1998). Because students in ninth grade, the first year of high school, are beginning to form formal cognitive structures some students will be formal in the stage of cognition, but some will still be concrete in cognition, and some will be transitional between concrete and formal in their cognition. Research by Elizabeth F. Karplus and Robert Karplus (1970) indicates that ninth grade has mixed levels of cognitive development with tenth grade showing markedly higher levels of cognitive development. The ninth grade age group is diverse and shifting in their cognitive abilities and therefore can be difficult to teach. Lavoie (1999) studied the effectiveness of adding a prediction in the learning cycle to include a formal prediction phase. Lavoie found prediction to be 8

statistically significant in increasing student learning. Lawson (2003) studied the process of scientists constructing arguments through a prediction then testing the prediction using experimental processes. Lawson suggested this prediction process has its beginnings in the earliest stages of cognitive development and potentially changes as the stage of development advances. The purpose of this study is to advance the current knowledge on the relationships between prediction, developmental stage/and learning by determining the efficacy of the teaching method of prediction in correcting misconceptions in a mixed group of learners comprising concrete, transitional, and formal stages of cognitive development. In fulfillment of this purpose the learning cycle is use to teach high school freshmen physics concepts known to be commonly held misconceptions. For the study a test instrument modified for high school freshmen based on Lawson's Test of Formal Reasoning (Lawson, 1978) will be used to determine the developmental stage of each student. Students will be tested at the beginning of the research to period to determine their developmental stage. Students will also be tested before the beginning of the lessons presented in the research using an expanded form of the Force Concept Inventory test (Halloun & Hestenes, 1985) to determine the existence of misconceptions. The literature review will show the Force Concept Inventory to be an instrument of sufficient reliability and validity for the research. The literature review also demonstrates that taking the test instrument itself does not have significant effect on future learning, it 9

is germane for the subject matter, and it is best used for measuring the efficacy of pedagogical methods. A final test following the presentation of the lessons will be a repeat of the expanded form of the Force Concept Inventory with some questions augmented by adding a two-tier approach (Haslam & Treagust, 1987; Odom & Barrow, 1995; Stein, Barman, & Larrabee, 2007). Statistical techniques discussed in the methods section will be used to analyze the relationships within the data obtained from the study. Research Questions As evidenced by improved test scores using by a pretest and posttest format with the pedagogical method of the learning cycle for teaching high school freshmen: 1. Does a teacher elicitation of a prediction affect retention of misconceptions about scientific principles? 2. Do students learn science content equally when they are at the developmental stages of concrete, transitional, and formal cognitive functioning? 3. Is there a relationship between the retention of misconceptions with and without the teacher elicitation of a prediction and the developmental stage of students? 10

Definition of Terms Misconception: The term "misconception" will be used to describe beliefs held by a student or students that are inconsistent with current scientific theory and with experimental outcome. Some authors have found the use of the word "misconception" to be negative, or to militate against the value of the students' prior learning, and thus, suggested the use of the term "alternative conception" as less pejorative (Schoon & Boone, 1998). However, the term misconception is common (Taylor & Kowalski, 2004), and authors not using this term tend to find it necessary to rationalize their use of other terms. The Learning Cycle: The term the learning cycle will be used to describe the pedagogical method consisting in its most basic form of the three part process of the student exploring a scientific concept through an activity, usually a laboratory experiment; the student then engaging in an activity that formally introduces the concept to be learned in the exploring; and finally, the student engaging in an activity that applies the concept to a context that the student understands. Though the term will be used to refer to this three step pedagogical process, the term may also be situationally expanded to refer to the learning cycle containing additional steps which will be contextually evident (Lawson, 2001; Lawson, 2000; Brown & Votaw, 2008). Cognitive dissonance: Cognitive dissonance is used to describe a psychological uneasiness due to a discrepancy between what is previously known and new information that has been encountered (McFalls, 2001). 11

Cognitive accommodation (or accommodation): Cognitive accommodation refers to the mental process of adapting previous knowledge to allow for acceptance of new information. The term may be abbreviated to the term "accommodation," however it will be contextually evident that it refers to cognitive accommodation (Posner, Strike, Hewson, & Gertzog, 1982; Nussbaum & Shimshon, 2004). Discrepant event: The term discrepant event will be used in its various grammatical forms to refer to an observation made by a learner that is inconsistent with prior understanding of, or belief about a scientific principle (Potthoff, Yeotis, Butel, Smith, & Williams, 1996). Assumptions Underlying the Study This study is based on the following assumptions: 1. The topics of physics selected for the study are sufficiently ubiquitous that they have been experienced by students in some form. 2. Experience is educative and builds knowledge. 3. Experience may be in the form of general life experience, or of an experience contrived for the lesson. 4. Knowledge may include misconceptions. 5. Unless they are abandoned, misconceptions develop in sophistication and become more entrenched with additional experience (Vosniadou, loannides, Dimitrakopoulou, & Papademetriou, 2001). 12

Students at the ninth grade level may be at the concrete, transitional, or formal cognitive stage of development. The developmental level may be identified with the test instruments used in this study. The existence of misconceptions can be identified through responses given by students on a test instrument. Gains in the score on the test instrument between a pretest and posttest signify an acceptance of scientifically correct knowledge that replaces or corrects a misconception. Students will make legitimate attempts to answer the questions on all test instruments to the best of their knowledge, or manifestly disingenuous test submissions will be recognizable by the researcher and can be filtered from the data. Teachers all use instructional methods and skills consistent with the protocols of the study. Limitations of the Study This study has the following limitations: Knowledge and skill of the teachers in presenting the lessons in an engaging and scientifically accurate manner may limit the reception and accuracy of the lesson. Teacher fidelity to the instructional protocols and methods of the study may limit the integrity of the data. 13

3. Ability of students to adequately engage in the pretest instrument because they may find it beyond their knowledge level may limit accurately identifying misconceptions. 4. The study is limited to a particular set of students from one high school and may not necessarily be generalized to other student groups. Outline of the Research Paper Chapter 1 presented here as an introduction to the research that is the subject of this study. Included in chapter 1 is the background of the study, the need for the study, the purpose of the study, the research question, the definition of terms, the assumptions underlying the study, the limitations of the study, as well as this summary of the organization of the study. Chapter 2 will present a review of the relevant literature that supports the methods and analysis of this study. There is a large body of literature on the topic of the learning cycle and pedagogical methods for identifying and correcting misconceptions held by students. Much of that large body of literature contains the inferred incorporation of the elicitation of a prediction. Because much of that literature redundantly presents concepts and principles of the learning cycle and the method of a asking students to make prediction, the presentation of the literature review will be narrowed to exemplars of the concepts being used or investigated in this research. Additionally any novel representation of the concepts or principles 14

being discussed will be presented along with relevant works giving a dissenting opinion. Chapter 3, the methods section, will present a description of the design and process of the research, as well as how the validity of the research may be ascertained. The rational for each part of the research process used will be discussed, in addition to potential problems with the process, and how the effects of those problems are mitigated by the process. The methods section will also discuss what data will be gathered, the relevance of the data, and how the data will be analyzed. In addition to the quantitative data to be collected a brief discussion of the qualitative observations that will be made will be presented. Chapter 4, the analysis and results, will focus on the quantitative data generated by the procedures described in the methods section. The descriptive statistics will be presented and the results of the testing of the research will be discussed. In addition to the quantitative results there will qualitative observations made ancillary to the conducting of the investigation described in the methods section. The potential significance of these qualitative observations will be presented and discussed with particular attention to their relationship to the quantitative data. Anomalous or incongruous quantitative or qualitative observations will also be discussed. Chapter 5 will be a summary discussion, and will present conclusions, and recommendations derived from the investigation and analysis. Particular attention will be given to how the research questions were addressed by the investigation, 15

Full document contains 196 pages
Abstract: This study examines the efficacy in correcting student misconceptions about science concepts by using the pedagogical method of asking students to make a prediction in science laboratory lessons for students within pre-formal, transitional, or formal stages of cognitive development. The subjects were students (n = 235) enrolled in ninth grade physical science classes (n=15) in one high school of an urban profile school district. The four freshmen physical science teachers who were part of the study routinely taught the concepts in the study as a part of the normal curriculum during the time of the school year in which the research was conducted. Classrooms representing approximately half of the students were presented with a prediction phase at the start of each of ten learning cycle lesson. The other classrooms were not presented with a prediction phase. Students were pre and post tested using a 40 question instrument based on the Force Concept Inventory augmented with questions on the concepts taught during the period of the study. Students were also tested using the Test of Scientific Reasoning to determine their cognitive developmental level. Results showed 182 of the students to be cognitively pre-formal, 50 to be transitional, and only 3 to be cognitively formal. There were significantly higher gains (p < .05) for the formal group over the transitional group and for the transitional group over the Pre-formal group. However, there were not significantly higher gains (p > .05) for the total students having a prediction phase compared to those not having a prediction phase. Neither were there significant gains (p > .05) within the pre-formal group or within the transitional group. There were too few students within the formal group for meaningful results.