The impact of a teaching sequence on teachers' conceptual development in electrodynamics
This study explored the impact of a teaching sequence on physical sciences teachers' conceptual development in electrodynamics, using simulations and experiments. The teachers' pre-conceived knowledge in electrodynamics was explored to try to reconstruct, refine and improve the content knowledge of electrodynamics, by filling knowledge gaps and addressing alternative conceptions. In view of the constructivist theory, computer simulation and practical works were to serve the purpose for effective teaching and learning for conceptual development. Physical sciences teachers were sampled as the experiment and control group. The teachers of Kgetleng circuit in Ngaka Modiri Molema district (North West of South Africa) were sampled for this study because the researcher had easy access to the group as she directly worked with groups. Sixteen teachers (participants) formed the experiment group, and fifteen formed the control group, giving a total of thirty-one teachers (participant)s. Both groups were work-shopped for three days to enable the researcher to best understand the research problem. The empirical study commenced with the experimental and control groups writing the same pre-test in order to determine common conceptual problems that needed attention in the intervention. Two groups were then exposed to the same content organised in a conceptual development teaching sequence that followed the historical development of electrodynamics to a great extent. Although the teaching approach was teacher-centred, the teaching methods entailed concept refinement for improved understanding. The main difference between the control group and the experimental group was that simulations and practical work were infused in the sequence presented to the experimental group. The influence of the intervention with the experimental group was determined using both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analyses. The quantitative data was embedded within the qualitative experimental design. Collection of data occurred in three phases, and that was; before intervention, during intervention, and after intervention. Participants' written reports, questionnaire and video-recorded activities complemented each other and were analysed. After the intervention, the same questionnaire that was used as a pre-test was used as a post-test to measure the impact of the teaching sequences. Learning gained was measured after intervention to compare the impact of interventions. The improvement of content knowledge for the experimental group was attributed to the use of computer simulations and experiments. The results necessitated the recommendation that computer simulations and practical work be used to address the needs and demands of the subject. The approach is relevant for the learning and teaching of physical sciences, and impacted positively in the improvement of knowledge in this study.
- Education