Understanding the Development of Students' Abstract Concepts in Electromagnetic Induction Using Visualisation-based Instruction

Project Number
OER 13/08 JY

Project Duration
April 2009 - September 2012


Electromagnetic induction is a difficult physics concept among junior college students because of the abstract nature of what is happening (Bagno & Eylon, 1997; Chabay & Sherwood, 2006; Planinic, 2006; Saglam & Millar, 2006). Imaging and visualizing two-dimension and three-dimension images in the spatial domain is an essential skill that junior college students need to develop in order to understand the concepts of the topic. However, little attention is given to the use of visualisation as a cognitive tool to concretize abstract phenomena (Rieber, 1995) Accordingly, this study explores the use of vissalization tools to facilitate construction and comprehension of internal visual representation associated with the abstract concepts of electromagnetic induction. The visualization-based instructional package, grounded on constructivist perspective of learning, will be designed to help students make sense of abstract and unobservable process of electromagnetic induction. It aims to scaffold students in conceptual learning and to deepen their conceptual understanding through multiple visual representations. The objectives of the studre: 1. To design an IT-based instructional package to facilitate students constructing and comprehending an internal visual representation while learning the abstract concepts of electromagnetic induction. 2. To investigate if the use of an IT-based instructional package into visualisation-based interactive instruction would have a significant effect on conceptual learning. 3. To investigate how students make use of visual representation in developing conceptual understanding of electromagnetic induction The proposed study will take an iterative design approach in which the package will be designed, implemented, evaluated and redesigned based on findings of its effectiveness in facilitating junior college students develop deep conceptual understanding of electromagnetic induction and understanding of students' meaning making process. The study will involve the collaboration of junior college teachers over a period of two years, with the package implemented with junior college students according to their curriculum schedule. Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected. Pre- and post-tests will be conducted to measure students' conceptual change in electromagnetic induction. Qualitative data in the form of video data and interviews will be collected to understand how students make meaning of visual representations and how the sense-making of visual representations helps in generating a deeper understanding of electromagnetic induction. Statistical and content analysis methods will be used to analyse the data collected. The outcomes of the study will provide teachers with an instructional package to engage junior college students in learning electromagnetic induction and develop a deeper understanding of how visual representations help students in making sense of abstract concepts. The latter outcome will, in turn, help teachers and instructional designers to the use of visualizations for learning abstract physics concepts.

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