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Title: An investigation into the difficulties that pupils have in understanding current electricity, and an assessment of different methods of helping pupils to learn about this topic
Author: Swarbrick, Wendy
ISNI:       0000 0001 3493 5750
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2008
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This study attempts to analyse why pupils find it difficult to assimilate concepts in physics, and in particular, to learn how electrical circuits work. The study combines overviews of research into teaching electrical concepts, research into why learning science is difficult, and research into theories of learning, with a description and analysis of attempts to teach simple circuits to forty-four twelve-year-old pupils in small groups, using different methods. The pupils' progress was assessed by using a video record of the teaching sessions, and by analysing pupils' written answers to questions. Pupils' preferred learning style was recorded using the VARK questionnaire. Pupils' academic ability in science was estimated from their predicted Key Stage 3 levels, and from t~eir year 8 school science examination results. The records were examined to see whether 'moments of insight' could be identified, with the corresponding triggers that produced them. The resulting data were analysed to determine whether there were any significant relationships between gender, learning style, ability and successful teaching. No statistically significant patterns linking any of the other variables to learning style were discovered. The study revealed that not all the year 8 pupils involved in the study were capable of formal reasoning, within the given context. Where 'moments of insight' were identified, the most likely stimulus was a discussion of an analogy, involving flowing water, but this analogy was combined with practical experience and discussion between pupils, and between pupils and the teacher. When pupils were asked dire~t1y, most said that they preferred kinaesthetic learning, and this was the most popular style according to the results of the questionnaire, but this was not the most successful method with which they learned. It seems necessary to separate teaching and learning approaches designed for pupil engagement with a subject, from those designed to deepen understanding.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available