An evaluation of the effectiveness of video and the formulation of hierarchical models of student understanding in mechanics
This thesis reports on research into two areas. Firstly the evaluation of the effectiveness of video as a resource for the teaching of mechanics and secondly investigations into student understanding of mechanics concepts. The first of these two areas has been based on a controlled experiment, used to determine whether the use of video can lead to improved levels of student understanding among sixth form mathematics students. The data that has been collected from this experiment has revealed that there are virtually no statistically significant differences between the understanding of the control and experimental groups involved in the experiment. However, student reactions to the videos, recorded on questionnaires, have provided much valuable information. From this it has been possible to identify the most effective way to use video in mechanics. This approach has been applied to the production of two videos, which have been used to validate and refine this approach to video production. The second area of research developed from the first as the responses of the students to the questions used to test understanding in the experiment became available. The results from the pre-tests produced a wealth of information about the intuitive reasoning used by many students. Their intuitive ideas include many misconceptions, or ideas that are at considerable variance with scientific thought. In addition the responses to the post-tests yielded information about the state of students understanding and the ways in which it had developed from the intuitive levels observed in the pre-tests. The data gathered from the post-tests allowed a small scale pilot study to take place, which investigated the feasibility of modelling the development of student understanding using a set of hierarchies. This technique was then applied to the two concept areas of force and momentum on a much larger scale. This thesis provides details of the models developed in this way and the intuitive reasoning used by students.