Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Learning physics concepts as a function of colloquial language usage
by Maier, Steven J., Ph.D., The University of Oklahoma, 2008, 136; 3337185
Abstract (Summary)

Data from two sections of college introductory, algebra-based physics courses (n1 = 139, n2 = 91) were collected using three separate instruments to investigate the relationships between reasoning ability, conceptual gain and colloquial language usage. To obtain a measure of reasoning ability, Lawson's Classroom Test of Scientific Reasoning Ability (TSR) was administered once near mid-term for each sample. The Force Concept Inventory (FCI) was administered at the beginning and at the end of the term for pre- and post-test measures. Pre- and post-test data from the Mechanics Language Usage instrument were also collected in conjunction with FCI data collection at the beginning and end of the term. The MLU was developed specifically for this study prior to data collection, and results of a pilot test to establish validity and reliability are reported.

T-tests were performed on the data collected to compare the means from each sample. In addition, correlations among the measures were investigated between the samples separately and combined. Results from these investigations served as justification for combining the samples into a single sample of 230 for performing further statistical analyses.

The primary objective of this study was to determine if scientific reasoning ability (a function of developmental stage) and conceptual gains in Newtonian mechanics predict students' usages of "force" as measured by the MLU. Regression analyses were performed to evaluate these mediated relationships among TSR and FCI performance as a predictor of MLU performance. Statistically significant correlations and relationships existed among several of the measures, which are discussed at length in the body of the narrative.

The findings of this research are that although there exists a discernable relationship between reasoning ability and conceptual change, more work needs to be done to establish improved quantitative measures of the role language usage has in developing understandings of course content.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Marek, Edmund A.
Commitee: Ackerson, Bruce J., Chiodo, John J., Crowson, H. M., Pedersen, Jon E.
School: The University of Oklahoma
Department: Department of Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum
School Location: United States -- Oklahoma
Source: DAI-A 69/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Science education, Higher education
Keywords: Colloquial, Colloquial language, Force, Language, Learning, Physics, Terminology
Publication Number: 3337185
ISBN: 9780549918721
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