PHYSICS MISCONCEPTION IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS
This study looked into senior secondary school students' misconceptions about physics in several Lagos state Local government Areas. The primary misunderstandings were identified, and hypotheses were tested at the 0.05 level of significance using gender, age, and culture as moderators. Three hundred (300) SSS III Physics students were chosen at random from eight (8) Senior Secondary Schools in four (4) different Lagos Local Government Areas to form the study's sample.
Fifty (50) item test questions about students' misconceptions about the instruments used in data collection. Face, content, and empirical validations were performed on the instruments. The acquired data was analysed using Pearson moment correlation and the T-test.
The study's findings revealed a substantial association between students' gender and physics misconceptions. Other study findings include: a substantial association between student cultural background and physics misperception. There was no significant association between the pupils' ages and physics misconceptions.
Because students' cultural background is an important variable in achievement, the researcher recommended that attention be focused on improving students' understanding of basic concepts in Physics by providing adequate competent teachers and environmental factors.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Motion and energy are the major ideas that underpin and unite the topics in the SSS physics curriculum material. The importance of the themes' relevance to society in terms of application is emphasised throughout. Only themes that can be directly deduced from the concepts and their subconcepts were chosen.
In general, the method in the curriculum is to present the topics in a generic manner under a unifying concept and provide some depth in the applications to advocate relevance and utilise profuse illustration to facilitate understanding. According to physics learning research, students arrive at their physics course with preconceived notions about the world that differ from established scientific notions.
This first common sense will be used to allude to misunderstanding. According to one study, it is difficult for students to change their original common sense (McDermott, 1990) since their beliefs are based on extended personal experience. Changing students' original assumptions is frequently challenging. The new knowledge must be linked to the current knowledge structure.
The effectiveness of introductory physics instruction is important for improving student attitudes towards scientific process understanding; for example, improve quantitative problem solving ability, improve laboratory skill, improve students' understanding of physics concepts, and reasoning skill.
Some scientific explanations for physical occurrences frequently diverge from intuitive conceptions or pre-existing conceptual systems. Our ultimate goal will be to improve how physics is taught and to develop more effective methods of teaching physics.
One of the most difficult topics to teach in physics is electricity and magnetism. This is due to the abstract aspect of the subject, which is difficult to visualise, and the mathematical correlations, which can be complex. Electricity and magnetism are regarded as key topics in physics curricula at all levels of education, including primary, secondary, and postsecondary.
Students' knowledge of concepts in electricity and magnetism has not been studied as thoroughly as it has in mechanics. According to certain studies, instructional approaches such as conceptual conflict and analogies can be developed to influence students' beliefs in electricity and magnetism using scientific models (Driver et al.1994).
Physics education research over the last 20 years has showed that students have a variety of notions about how physical systems function even before they begin to study physics.
In many cases, these beliefs, sometimes known as alternative conceptions or common sense science, contradict conventional scientific ideas. Other research has found that pupils find it difficult to adjust their initial opinions. The invention and extensive usage of the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) conceptual test covering certain basic kinematics and Newton's three laws has increased the conscience of many physics professors about the efficiency of traditional education.
Many physics professors have indicated an interest in testing their students' understanding of electricity and magnetism. designing an instrument to assess students' ideas in electricity and magnetism, on the other hand, is a fundamentally different task than designing the FCI.
For over 30 years, science educators have been interested in student preconceptions in science because of the principle idea of constructivist learning theory, which states that “students come to the learning environment with preconceptions that were formed during their interactions within the physical and social environment, and those preconceptions affect learning” (Pfundt and Duit, 2006).
The primary focus of investigations is on those preconceptions that, in particular, contradict scientific knowledge and cause difficulties in learning. In this study, such beliefs were referred to as misconceptions. The findings of the research revealed some key characteristics of misunderstandings. Driver and Bell, 1986; Driver, 1989; Mutimucuio, 1998; Widodo et al., 2002; Tyler, 2002) describe these findings.
• Misconceptions of pupils from diverse cultures, religions, and languages are typically similar.
• Misconceptions can permeate pupils' minds and make them resistant to change.
• Misconceptions can be formed as a result of everyday language, culture, and religion.
• Misconceptions can be analogous to older scientists' interpretations for scientific events.
Misconceptions may emerge following formal instruction. Several studies on students' misconceptions about simple electric circuits produced similar results (Osborne, 1983; Cohen et al., 1982; Tiberghien, 1983; Shipstone, 1984; Kärrqvist, 1985; Shipstone et al., 1988; McDermott and Shafer, 1992; Barges et al., 1999; Lee and Law, 2001; Küçüközer, 2003).
The following are the most often encountered findings:
• Current, energy, and potential difference are not recognised as distinct concepts and are used interchangeably.
• Circuit components consume current.
• Current flows from the battery's (+) pole to the bulb, where it is consumed to light the bulb, unaffected by the second wire linked between the (-) pole and itself.
• Current flows from the battery's two poles and collides in the bulb to light it.
• Current is split equally in each parallel circuit line.
• Positively charged objects have gained protons rather than being electron-deficient.
• A change before the bulb influences the brightness of the bulb in a circuit connected in series, whereas a change after the bulb has no effect on the same bulb.
• Batteries provide steady current.
The above-mentioned misconceptions were revealed in research conducted with students from various nations and age groups.
The study by Shipstone et al. (1988) is significant since it summarises that students in five European countries exhibit comparable errors regarding simple electric circuits. The above-mentioned misunderstanding of “current is consumed by circuit components” is nearly universally reported in electric circuit investigations.
Students may develop misconceptions as a result of their use of ordinary language (Gilbert et al., 1982; Leach and Scott, 2003). According to Gilbert et al. (1982), senior secondary students' misconceptions in physics can also be linked to teachers' methods of imparting and evaluating physics in classrooms. Teachers' methods of imparting and evaluating physics are a major cause of misconception among senior secondary school students in Nigeria.
1.2 PROBLEMS IN TEACHING PHYSICS IN SECONDARY SCHOOL IN NIGERIA
A number of deep-seated difficulties that are unique to the physics curriculum in senior secondary schools have been discovered and must be addressed.
These are the challenges that are typical in senior secondary schools:
– Inadequate materials and personnel for teaching the subject.
– Lack of laboratories and equipment; inability of teachers to impact the subject on students; this could be due to an issue with teacher qualification and effectiveness.
– The West African Examination Council syllabus is overburdened.
– A scarcity of physics teachers, as well as poor conditions in which physics practicals are taught.
– The subject's ability to inspire and intrigue students, particularly girls; and other elements such as career guidance that influence students' decision to study physics at higher levels.
– The curriculum's rigidity, irrelevance, and repetition;
– A lack of participation in debate and quizzes on this subject.
Practical and fieldwork limits
Coursework has a low instructional value because ICT is not used in science education.
– A well-known issue is the scarcity of skilled scientific teachers. Because of the increasing demand for science degrees in other more lucrative areas, as well as the diminishing number of graduates in these courses, we are trapped in a seemingly never-ending cycle of decrease in expert science teachers.
– Inadequate consideration given to students' prior learning and achievement, particularly what they had learnt in primary school;
– Some tasks assigned to students were either too demanding or not challenging enough.
– Insufficiently high teacher expectations for the rate of students' learning and the quality of their written work presentation.
1.3 PHYSICS STUDENT PERFORMANCES
The performance of kids in senior secondary school has been a source of concern for the government and parents. For the past few decades, student performance in physics has declined due to several causes, including: teachers' deficiencies in various subjects they teach, which affects the quality of learning and student performance. The effects of laboratory facilities and resources also have a significant impact on the performance of physics students at this level.
The teacher-student interaction in a certain subject determines a student's interest and achievement in Physics at the secondary school level. Girls and women may be considered latecomers on the scientific scene in Nigeria. Male and female students perform significantly differently in Physics. Historically, Physics has been taught at the high school and college level mostly through the lecture technique, with laboratory exercises targeted at validating topics taught.
1.4 STATEMENT PF THE PROBLEM
The issue of physics misinterpretation in senior secondary schools is a big issue plaguing the educational system. Year after year, pupils fail in physics, particularly in the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the recently adopted National Examination Council (NECO) Examination.
To reduce physics misconceptions among students and increase academic accomplishment in senior secondary schools, new effective methods of teaching and learning physics must be developed.
Recognising effective methods of teaching and learning can increase students' academic achievement in senior secondary schools physics.
The study aims to identify the effects of these strategies on student academic performance as well as the amount to which the methods can affect or change students' academic performance in physics.
1.5 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The overall goal of this research project is to look into senior secondary school physics misconceptions. However, this study is designed to meet specific goals, which is why this research is being conducted. The following are the study's objectives:
1. To outline the major physics misconceptions of students.
2. To distinguish between the misconceptions of male and female physics students.
3. To test whether a student's physics misperception is influenced by their cultural background.
4. To investigate the association between age and physics misconceptions among students.
1.6 QUESTION FOR RESEARCH:
1. What are the most common physics misconceptions among students?
2. Is there a difference in physics misconceptions between male and female students?
3. What is the relationship between students' physics misconceptions and their cultural background?
4. What is the relationship between age and physics misconceptions among students?
1.7 RESEARCH THEORIES
H01: There is no statistically significant difference between male and female physics students' misunderstandings.
HYPOTHESIS NO. 2
H02: There is no substantial association between cultural background and physics student misunderstandings.
H03: There is no substantial association between student age and physics misunderstandings.
1.8 THE IMPORTANCE OF THE STUDY
The relevance of this work cannot be overstated or understated. For starters, this research contributes to the body of general knowledge and previous research on the issue. Second, this study emphasises the critical importance of thoroughly investigating senior secondary school students' misconceptions about science (physics).
This would not only assist to reduce common misconceptions in senior secondary school, but it will also strengthen and increase student knowledge and skills in science (physics) and associated courses. Furthermore, this study emphasises the importance of enacting national policies to support the training of specialised and competent teachers in the field of science development in Nigeria.
This would further strengthen and improve the nation's standing in terms of scientific progress in the global globe, as well as boost the adoption of scientific applications in all aspects of life, including social, political, and economic aspects.
1.9 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study would include senior secondary school pupils, specifically senior secondary students from Lagos State's several Local Government Areas. Because of the anticipated and limited time frame for completion of this course, it is restricted to senior secondary pupils only.
1.10 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Terms and concepts are critical to comprehending any scientific investigation. Furthermore, operational definitions that will be used for the investigation are required. This will help to make the study plain while also providing the reader with a complete comprehension of the important terms and concepts employed in the study.
SCIENCE: is a systematic effort that creates and organises knowledge about the cosmos in the form of testable explanations and predictions.
MISCONCEPTION: an inaccurate view or opinion based on flawed thinking or comprehension.
LEARNING: Is the process of acquiring new or modifying current knowledge, behaviours, abilities, values, or preferences, which may include synthesising many sorts of information (Sandman et al, 2000). For the purposes of this study, learning will be limited to scientific advancement.
SSS stands for senior secondary schools.