Effects of physical and virtual Experimentation on students conceptual Understanding in heat and temperature
Zacharia, Zacharias C.
Constantinou, Constantinos P.
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The purpose of this study was to compare the effect of Physical Manipulatives (PM), Virtual Manipulatives (VM), and two sequential combinations of PM and VM, on pre-service students’ understanding of scientific concepts in the domain of heat and temperature. A pre-post comparison study design was conducted that involved 182 undergraduate students in an introductory physics course that was based upon the Physics by Inquiry curriculum (McDermott and The Physics Education Group, 1996). The participants were assigned to three experimental groups (EG1=59 students, EG2=33 students, EG3= 34 students) and a control group (CG=56 students). The CG used PM to conduct the experiments, whereas the EG1 used VM. The EG2 and EG3 used a combination of PM and VM to conduct the same experiments. In the case of EG2, the use of PM preceded the use of VM, whereas, in the case of EG3, the use of VM preceded the use of PM. Conceptual tests were administered to assess students’ understanding. The data collected through the pre- and post-tests were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Findings revealed that PM, VM, and the combination of the two methods appeared to be equally effective in promoting students’ conceptual understanding in the domain of heat and temperature.