; Comparison of Central Appalachian In-service Elementary and Middle School Teachers' Understanding of Selected Light and Force and Motion Concepts
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Comparison of Central Appalachian In-service Elementary and Middle School Teachers' Understanding of Selected Light and Force and Motion Concepts

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This descriptive study investigated whether elementary and middle school teachers in the Central Appalachian region were prepared to teach selected standards-based light, force and motion concepts they could reasonably be expected to teach. The study also sought to compare their preparedness for teaching these concepts. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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									                        Rebecca McNall Krall, John E. Christopher, Ronald K. Atwood




       Comparison of Central Appalachian
        In-service Elementary and Middle
       School Teachers’ Understanding of
          Selected Light and Force and
                 Motion Concepts
      This descriptive study investigated whether elementary and middle school
      teachers in the Central Appalachian region were prepared to teach selected
      standards-based light, force and motion concepts they could reasonably be
      expected to teach. The study also sought to compare their preparedness for
      teaching these concepts.

   Basic light concepts and force           in both cases, the light must enter the   or pull, the greater the change in the
and motion concepts are integral            eye (NRC, 996).                          object’s motion, and consequently,
components of the K-8 national science         The standards statements on position   the greater the displacement of the
education standards and frameworks.         and motion of objects in the NSES         object from its original position. In
Specifically, the National Science          (NRC, 996) indicate that elementary      middle school, students should be
Education Standards (NSES) (National        students should be able to describe       able to demonstrate more advanced
Research Council [NRC], 996)               the position of an object by relating     knowledge and skills about force
for grades K-4 indicate elementary          it to another object or background.       and motion, including the abilities
students should understand and apply        They should also understand that the      to represent an object’s motion on a
the concept that light travels in a         position and motion of an object can      graph, interpret the motion of objects
straight line until it strikes an object.   be changed by pushing or pulling the      by reading a graph, and recognize the
Students at this level should also          object, and that the greater the push     effect forces have on the motion of
understand that light can be reflected                                                an object (NRC, 1996). That is, they
by a mirror, refracted by a lens, or                                                  should understand that forces acting
absorbed by an object. Middle school                                                  on an object along a straight line can
students are expected to further this       The odds are against in-                  reinforce or cancel out another force,
understanding of light phenomena by         service elementary or middle              while unbalanced forces acting on a
learning that the interaction between                                                 moving object can change the direction
                                            school science teachers
light and matter includes the ability to                                              and/or speed of the object’s motion.
be transmitted, absorbed, reflected, and
                                            having completed physical                 Recommendations in the Benchmarks
refracted. They should also understand      science courses that had                  for Scientific Literacy (American
that in order to see an object, light       incorporated contemporary                 Association for the Advancement of
must be either emitted by an object or      conceptual change theory                  Science [AAAS], 1994) are similar to
reflected by another object, and then,      into their structure.                     those described in the NSES. Looking


Spring 2009   Vol. 18, no. 1                                                                                               
beyond standards from the United          Research on conceptual understanding     conceptual understanding of samples
States, the targeted concepts appear to   of force and motion phenomena            of elementary and middle school
be viewed globally as fundamental to      reveals comparable findings. Previous    teachers in the central Appalachian
scientific literacy, which is evidenced   studies have explored conceptual         region to learn if, in fact, they hold
by their inclusion in the Trends          understanding of force and motion        similar alternative conceptions about
in International Mathematics and          phenomena held by middle school          standards-based light concepts and
Science Study assessments (Beaton,        (Morote & Pritchard, 2002), secondary    force and motion concepts, and if they
Martine, Mullis, Gonzalez, Smith, &       (Champagne, Klopfer, & Anderson,         hold these non-scientific notions in
Kelly, 997)                              1980; Gunstone, 1984; Gunstone           comparable frequencies.
                                          & Watts, 1985; Minstrell, 1982;
                                          McCloskey, 1983; McDermott, 1984;        Science Content
                                          Oliva, 1999, 2003; Ridgeway, 1988;       Requirements in Elementary
Previous studies have                     Peters, 1982; Thijs, 1992; Thijs &       and Middle School Teacher
reported limitations in                   Dekkers, 1998; Tao & Gunstone,           Preparation
pre-service and in-service                1999) and college-level students (da         The first objective was to determine
teachers’ und
								
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