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The influence of group work discussion on scores of Force Concept Inventory in Lao PDR
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics. (Physics Education)
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics. (Physics Education)
2010 (English)In: Proceedings of International Conference of Physics Education: ICPE-2009 / [ed] Boonchoat Paosawatyanyong, Pornrat Wattanakasiwich, American Institute of Physics (AIP), 2010, 102-105 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this study, we investigated if freshman student's participation in small group discussions in the tutorial sessions would influence their score of the Lao version of the Force Concept Inventory test (LFCI). We used the LFCI version to test 188 students'' understanding of mechanics concepts before and after they studied mechanics at university. In three classes the students used group discussions when they solved the end-of-chapter questions in the textbook during tutorials and they also used group discussions to answer the LFCI. We video recorded three groups when they solved end-of-chapter questions. In two classes the students both solved the problems and answered the LFCI individually. A questionnaire about advantages and disadvantages of cooperative group and individual problem solving were handed out to the students. The questionnaire was supplemented by interviews with four students and three groups. We found that almost all students would like to work with group discussions; only 3% of them were negative. Students that worked with group discussions obtained an average score of 26% correct answers to the LFCI which was slightly higher than the average score of 23% for students that worked individually. The improvement from the pre- to the post-test in average score was 7 percentage points for classes with group discussions and 6 percentage points for classes with individual problem solving. It is not possible to claim that one of these ways of study will result in a larger improvement in the LFCI-score. Apparently, the group discussions did not help the students to improve their theoretical understanding of mechanics concepts as it is tested by the LFCI. However, it was observed in the video analysis that group discussions helped students to better understand mechanics concepts in the context of solving the end-of-chapter questions in the textbook. This observation was also supported by the students' answers to the questionnaire and the interview.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
American Institute of Physics (AIP), 2010. 102-105 p.
, AIP Conference Proceedings, ISSN 1551-7616 ; 1263
Keyword [en]
education, research initiatives, training, educational courses; science in school, research in physics education, teacher training, curricula and evaluation
National Category
Didactics Physical Sciences
Research subject
didactics of physics
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-40513DOI: 10.1063/1.3479842ISI: 000283480300023ISBN: 978-0-7354-0816-6OAI: diva2:400234
International Conference on Physics Education, Bangkok Thailand, 18-24 October 2009
Available from: 2011-02-25 Created: 2011-02-25 Last updated: 2015-09-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Student activity — a way to improve the conceptual understanding of physics in Lao PDR?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Student activity — a way to improve the conceptual understanding of physics in Lao PDR?
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis reports about Laotian students’ understanding of the concepts of mechanics, and students’ activities when solving physics problems in groups. Totally, more than 1,000 first year university students from three universities in Laos have been tested using two versions of the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) over a period of three years. The Force Concept Inventory was developed in the USA to test students’ understanding of mechanics concepts. The contexts of some questions were unfamiliar for Laotian students and therefore another Laotian version was constructed. We found that Lao students obtained a low score on the FCI. The average scores of the post-test ranged from 21% to 26% over the three years. The introduction of the Laotian version resulted in just a small improvement of the score but it helped the students to read and understand the questions more quickly. It was difficult to perceive from the answers to the FCI if the students used alternative conceptions however, in video recordings it could be seen that some students did use well-known alternative conceptions. In many cases, students seemed to use their everyday life experiences to find the answers to the FCI questions instead of referring to physics concepts.

Group discussions were introduced in tutorial sessions for first year students. There were two types of group discussions. In the first type 29 groups solved end-of-chapter problems and three groups were recorded. One group described the physics theory of the problem before they selected equations and successfully solved the problem. Students in this group were not afraid to raise disagreements; they asked questions and took turns answering them which resulted in a fruitful discussion. The other two groups made the major mistake of not considering that the object moved with constant speed. Students suggested equations to use without giving any arguments based on physics theory. Both groups got stuck and needed help from the teacher. It was found that the problem solving strategy in the physics textbook did not include the important step of describing the physics theory and could actually encourage students to start looking for equations without first describing the physics.

In the second type of group discussions 52 groups discussed qualitative multiple-choice questions. Seven groups were recorded and 14 students and three teachers were interviewed. In the group discussions most students co-constructed an answer. However, the students in general did not seem to come to an understanding of the physics concepts and the follow-up discussion in class was essential for a better understanding. To improve the discussions, the students need more time and should also be taught about working in groups.

The thesis is concluded with a section on the implications for education in physics in Lao PDR.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, Department of Physics, 2011. 97 p.
Mechanics concept, Group discussion, Problem solving strategy, alternative concepts, context.
National Category
Research subject
didactics of physics
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-43355 (URN)978-91-7459-203-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-05-20, Naturvetarhuset, N430, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2011-04-29 Created: 2011-04-27 Last updated: 2011-05-05Bibliographically approved

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