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Conceptions and understanding of phenomena in experiments with candles

Vika Planinšek (2017) Conceptions and understanding of phenomena in experiments with candles. MSc thesis.

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    Master thesis treats how pupils in second triad of primary school education understand burning. The first time pupils are introduced to burning is in their third year within the school subject called Environmental Studies when talking about the meaning of air. At that point they are also introduced to how heating can change substance’s properties. In year four pupils have to know that heating up or cooling down different materials, changes material’s properties. In year five pupils need to be able to explain what is needed for burning, they need to predict and know which substances are needed as well as what are the products of burning. They also need to be able to present different ways of extinguishing the fire. Pupil’s previous knowledge, their wrong conceptions or wrong and erroneous teacher’s explanation can lead to problems with pupils’ understanding of the science contents connected to the goals from the school curriculum (school subjects: Natural Science, Natural Science and Technology, Environmental Studies). The aim of this master thesis is to show how previous knowledge and perceptions of pupils year four and five influence the understanding of burning and experiments with candles, before, during and after the experiments. In the master thesis we answer three research questions:  What are the perceptions and previous knowledge of pupils year four and five on the phenomena of experimenting with candles?  How do pupils change and form the conceptions and understanding of the phenomena of experimenting with candles during the experimenting?  How do pupils change and form the conceptions and understanding of the phenomena of experimenting with candles after the experimenting? Five pupils were included in the qualitative research. Four of them year 4, and one of them year 5. The method used was descriptive and causal non experimental, the type of the research was qualitative. The data was collected by two instruments: semi-constructed interview with individuals and guided observation with participation with semi-structured group interview. Before conducting experiments with candles, pupils have been asked questions connected to the experiments. After the experimental work, pupils have been ask the exact same questions as on the interview beforehand. Six experiments have been performed: lighting the candle with a convex lens; finding out what burns in the candle; fire travelling through the wax vapour; burning of the wax vapour; extinguishing the fire; Lavoisier’s experiment. Results of the research show that answers from the interview after the experimental work were more correct in comparison to the answers from the interview before the experimental work. On the interview before the experimental work only 30 % of the answers were correct, whilst the correctness of the questions after the experimental work was 70 %. Pupils had some misconceptions before the experimental work: what burns in the candle is the wick, fire extinguishers only because of the lack of oxygen, wax vapours do not burn, lack of knowledge regarding to Lavoisier’s experiment. After experiments have been performed we still identify some misconceptions pupils have related to the explanation of the Lavoisier’s experiments and the only cause of fire extinguishment being the lack of oxygen. In comparison to pupils from year four, year five pupil generally more correctly answered the questions before and after the experimental work. Results of the research indicate misconceptions of pupils included in the research we identify. Findings of the research can help teachers to get an insight into the ways pupils think. Outcomes can assist teachers to plan school lessons in a way where they can refute any misunderstandings as well as where teachers would not lead pupils to the misunderstandings and misconceptions.

    Item Type: Thesis (MSc thesis)
    Keywords: burning, candles, experiments, Lavoisier’s experiment, misconceptions, phenomena in science, science
    Number of Pages: 146
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    doc. dr. Jerneja PavlinMentor
    Link to COBISS: http://www.cobiss.si/scripts/cobiss?command=search&base=50126&select=(ID=11556937)
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 4469
    Date Deposited: 30 May 2017 13:50
    Last Modified: 30 May 2017 13:50
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/4469

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