Using physical and virtual manipulatives to Enhance 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) and the combination of Physical Manupulatives with Virtual Manipulatives (VM) on pre-service teachers’ understanding of scientific concepts in the domain of heat and temperature. A pre-post comparison study design was conducted that involved 62 undergraduate pre-service elementary school teachers enrolled in an introductory course in heat and temperature that was based upon the Physics by Inquiry curriculum (McDermott and The Physics Education Group, 1996). The participants were assigned to an experimental (EG, 34 students) and a control group (CG, 28 students). The CG used PM to conduct the experiments, whereas, the EG used a combination of PM and VM. Conceptual tests were administered to assess students’ understanding before, during, and after the study The data analysis involved both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis. The quantitative analysis showed that experimenting with the combination of PM and VM enhanced students’ conceptual understanding more than experimenting with PM alone. The qualitative analysis revealed that the EG had a larger shift from not scientific accepted conceptions to scientific accepted conceptions concerning changes in temperature, heat and heat transfer than the CG.