Probing High School Physics Students' Views and Concerns about Learning Activities

Research paper by Dorothy Langley, Bat-Sheva Eylon

Indexed on: 30 May '06Published on: 30 May '06Published in: International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education


The current study is framed within an ongoing effort of probing students' attitudes and expectations about knowing and learning physics, which has driven several investigations during the past decade. The questionnaire we developed focuses on physics students' views regarding a variety of specific learning activities, which are presented by title or short description, as detailed tasks and as components of learner strategies. Our study involved 223 physics majors from 10 high schools. The results show that teacher lectures and demonstrations are seen as major contributors to developing students' physics knowledge. Students also consider traditional student initiatives (e.g., reading the textbook and solving problems) and inquiry activities, including Information Technology Based Activities (ITBA), as contributing (in varying degrees) to the development of their physics knowledge. We found that students' willingness to engage in a task was correlated with the value they attributed to it for the development of their physics knowledge. Students' views regarding different learning strategies reveal the tension they experience between the need to succeed on traditional exams versus the need for a gradual construction of a sound knowledge structure and achievement of deeper understanding. We have employed our questionnaire as a tool for assessing students' receptiveness to an instructional intervention that dealt with integrating ITBA into physics instruction and used our research findings for guiding the implementation design.