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Acting with pendulum: the process matters where the object also should
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education.
2011 (English)Other (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper analyses factors affecting undergraduate Lao students activities during their first laboratory work in physics - the pendulum experiment. Seven student groups (of three students each) were selected and video recorded at the National University of Laos. Each recording lasted on average about 55 minutes. In addition, the students’ lab reports were analysed. The Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) was used as a theoretical framework for the data analyses. The findings indicate that nearly all students had difficulties handling the equipment. Students conducted measurements but did not have clear understanding of the objectives of the experimental task. Their lab reports contained tables with data collected and mathematical calculations but had no discussion related to the physics of the experiment, accuracy of the measurements or reflections about the trustworthiness of the results obtained. The process of doing the experiment appeared to be more important than related learning outcomes. Lack of experience of doing practical work, gap between theory and practice, poor quality of the lab instructions, and faulty equipment were identified as other factors affecting the efficiency of the experiment

Place, publisher, year, pages
2011.
Keyword [en]
pendulum experiment, student activity, undergraduate physics education, CHAT
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
didactics of physics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-42124OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-42124DiVA: diva2:408678
Note
Synopsis of the paper accepted for ESERA 2011, Lyon, France, September 5-9, 2011Available from: 2011-04-05 Created: 2011-04-05 Last updated: 2011-04-08Bibliographically 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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