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French teacher perceptions of student learning about force: a preliminary study

Abstract : Background Many researchers have investigated student reasoning in Newtonian mechanics. In 1979 Viennot revealed that most students associate the concept of force with the velocity or acceleration of a motion. Forty years later, student understandings remain a major challenge for teachers. The implications of this challenge are still unclear, however, including the effect on the instructions given by teachers. Purpose This paper investigated the perceptions that French teachers of science, technology and engineering have of core student misconceptions about, and learning difficulties with, the subject of force, and the extent to which these are dependent on a teacher’s subject knowledge, and how they affect grade levels. Sample One hundred teachers in the Académie d'Aix-Marseille, an educational organisation in the southeast France, were questioned randomly about their views on student learning issues of force. Design and method Teacher views were collected using an exploratory study based on an online questionnaire which included Likert-based and closed questions. The data was analysed using nonparametric tests. Results The analysis revealed four major outcomes: (1) main perceptions of misconceptions related to student ‘impetus force’ and ‘force linked to an object weight’, (2) key learning difficulties included ‘knowledge transfer’ and ‘knowledge construction’, (3) teachers believed that the Aristotelian view was still a common barrier to learning Newtonian mechanics, and (4) differences in perceptions were due, essentially, to the teachers’ subject domain and not to the grades they taught. The only statistically significant difference in perceptions between teachers was linked to the idea of impetus force, with this corresponding to discipline philosophy. Conclusion This paper provides baseline evidence about teacher perceptions of student learning about force, which suggests that more systemic teaching approaches are crucial to foster student conceptual understanding, transfer and knowledge construction. Some implications for teachers and curriculum developers are discussed.
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Submitted on : Monday, February 10, 2020 - 6:24:12 PM
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Yakhoub Ndiaye, Jean-François Hérold, Marjolaine Chatoney. French teacher perceptions of student learning about force: a preliminary study. Research in Science and Technological Education, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2020, ⟨10.1080/02635143.2020.1779050⟩. ⟨hal-02473587⟩



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