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Analysis of Lao university students' collaborative activities in a pendulum experiment
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics. (Physics Education)
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics. (Physics Education)
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education.
2010 (English)In: Physics community & cooperation: selected contributions from the GIREP-EPEC & PHEC 2009 International Conference / [ed] D. Raine, C. Hurkett and L. Rogers, 2010, 289-300 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this study we have analysed students’ collaborative activities when they per- formed an experimental task with a pendulum. Five groups, with three to seven first year science students in each group, were videotaped. We continuously recorded each group during their practical work session with an average duration of 55 min- utes. Some students from each group were interviewed directly after the experi- mental session. When the video recordings were analysed, students’ activities and communication patterns were classified into eleven categories. The analysis evi- dences that the students collaborated actively in the groups helping each other han- dle the equipment and discussing how to perform the measurements. However in the largest working group, two students did not touch the measurement equipment and they did not take part in solving the experimental tasks. Other students in this and other groups collaborated well, but they revealed poor experimental skills and not all groups were able to complete the task. The students’ group discussions were mainly focused on understanding the experimental procedures and collecting data for the report rather than on the physics content. This revealed their shared priority of experimental activity: to pass the compulsory experimental part of the course. Just a few students tried to raise the issues about the goals stated in the laboratory work sheet concerning understanding of relations between different pendulum pa- rameters and verification of the value ofg (acceleration due to gravity). Evidence collected from the analysis of the video recordings and the follow-up interviews with the students showed that difficulty in understanding the laboratory instruction, faulty equipment, and insufficient help from the laboratory instructor constituted the main factors that led to a non -successful completion of the experimental task by some groups.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. 289-300 p.
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-40532ISBN: 978-1-4461-6219-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-40532DiVA: diva2:400433
Conference
GIREP-EPEC & PHEC 2009 International Conference, August 17-21, University of Leicester, UK
Available from: 2011-04-05 Created: 2011-02-25 Last updated: 2014-01-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The role of practical work in physics education in Lao PDR
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The role of practical work in physics education in Lao PDR
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to get a better understanding of the role of practical work in physics education in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). The Lao PDR is one of least developed countries in the world with a weak base for science, and poor market opportunities for science graduates. The rapidly expanding educational system has many problems concerning quality of the infrastructure and staff competence.

A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods was used in the study in order to assure reliability of the results. Data was collected through questionnaires, interviews, video-recordings, and my own ethnographic experiences of working in the Lao educational system for more than thirty years. The study was informed and results analysed with help of curriculum perspective and Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT).

The findings show that Lao physics education curriculum at all levels is dominated by very traditional forms of teaching with an almost total absence of practical. Official curricular documents have statements prescribing teachers to do practical work in high school and university courses. However, few institutions have functioning equipment and skilled teachers for organising practical activities. Therefore, the majority of Lao students come to university and even can finish university without experience of practical work in physics. This shows the gap that exists between intended and implemented curricula. The majority of the students understand the importance of having practical activities in physics. However, after being exposed to laboratory experiments in an introductory physics course, they expressed criticism about the quality of instruction and the process of the practical work organisation. The laboratory group work analysis showed that discussions were mainly focused on understanding the experimental procedures, manipulating equipment, and collecting data for the report rather than on the physics content (object of activity, in CHAT terms).

Based on the research results, it is possible to suggest that a systemic approach is needed to stimulate the development of a new practical work culture in schools and universities. This approach should include training and incentives for science teachers, development of assessment strategies including practical work, maintenance structures for physics equipment, and technical support for the organisation of demonstrations and laboratory exercises.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Institutionen för fysik, Umeå universitet, 2011. 45 p.
Keyword
Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, laboratory work, Laos, pendulum experiment, physics curriculum, physics education research, practical activities
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
didactics of physics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-42134 (URN)978-91-7459-172-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-04-29, KBC-huset, KB3A9, Umeå University, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-04-08 Created: 2011-04-06 Last updated: 2011-04-08Bibliographically approved

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