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Tan, Daniel Kim-Chwee
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The presence of alternative conceptions (ACs) among students is a common difficulty in the learning of primary science. Myriad studies have adopted different approaches and instruments for the identification of ACs. This study used a new three-tier MCQ as an instrument for identification of ACs in primary science students. The theme of energy; with topics of heat, light cum photosynthesis, and energy forms and uses, was chosen as past studies have revealed learning difficulties and ACs associated with these topics.

All students sat for the modified three-tier MCQ concept test so as to elicit their conceptual understanding on the theme of energy. This study uncovered a total of 23 ACs on the theme of energy, most of which were similar to what have been reported in the literature, but with the exception of five other ACs which have not been reported before.

The notion of ACs being tenacious has been reported in several research studies, so much so that these hinder students’ ability to comprehend scientific concepts and generate new cognitive structures. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have been shown to have some effectiveness in addressing students’ ACs in science. Although this approach has been tried at the secondary level, it is currently under-explored at the primary level.

This study thus also explored how ICT-based remediation packages, put together using simple ICT affordances, can be utilised to facilitate the learning processes and learning of primary science students as well as address their ACs. For instance, multimedia resources on the Web have been utilised in the development of this intervention package. This intervention study involved three groups (41 in control group, 81 in experimental 5E inquiry group, and 80 in the experimental frontal teaching group) of students from five intact classes from primary six in a neighbourhood school in Singapore. In total, 202 students participated in this study.

Students’ conceptual change on the theme of energy was evaluated through a pre- and post- concept test for each topic. Statistical analysis from one-way ANCOVA on students’ test scores after the ICT-based intervention suggests that this mode of intervention appears to be effective in helping students address their ACs to a good extent on the theme of energy. The experimental groups (experimental 5E and experimental frontal) showed a significant improvement (effect size > 0.8) on their test scores after the ICT-based intervention. The confidence of the students in the experimental groups, who answered the 1st and 2nd tiers of the items correctly also showed statistically significant gains. A perception survey on students’ views of the ICT-based remediation package revealed that students found this method of conceptual remediation effective. Interviews of teachers further underscored this point.

This study aims to bridge a gap in the literature on the integration of ICT to facilitate conceptual understanding in science and assess its efficacy in addressing ACs. Some implications of this study, such as the application of the modified three-tier MCQ format to identify ACs in primary science on the theme of energy, are examined. Notably, the metacognitive information derived from the confidence level, can better surface students’ levels of certainty for the correctness of their responses as well as their ACs. Also, the effectiveness of a short intervention using ICT is a point of interest.

In summary, this research reports on the development of a new diagnostic test format to uncover ACs; ACs of primary students on the topic of heat, light cum photosynthesis, and energy forms and uses; the development of conceptual change remediation packages, and an intervention that sought to address these ACs. Additionally, students’ and teachers’ views of the conceptual change package are reported.
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LB1532 Lin
Appears in Collections:Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

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