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Title: Important problem features for the promotion of onceptual understanding in introductory electronics
Author: José Manuel Oliveira
João Pedro Estima de Oliveira
Keywords: Conceptual understanding, Active learning, Problem features
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: SEFI
Abstract: This article describes an investigation in which a set of problems, specifically designed to develop conceptual understanding in introductory Electronics, were used as a teaching and learning strategy in an active learning setting. Some of the suggested problems have similarities with those presented by concept inventories, in that they are designed to address common students’ misconceptions. The goal, however, is not to detect misconceptions, but rather to challenge students’ conceptual reasoning. The investigation setting, integrated in the project-based learning environment established at the Higher Education Polytechnic School of Águeda (University of Aveiro, Portugal) since 2001, was designed as a source of abundant data, that included field notes, students written responses to the open problems and interviews. Qualitative analysis was used to identify important problem features that seem to prompt conceptual reasoning, and to evaluate the approach. Although the setting and the learning environment are described in some detail, to set the scene and provide context for the issues being discussed, this article concentrates on the problems and their important features in the promotion of conceptual understanding. Examples of the various formats of problems used in the investigation are provided to better illustrate the discussion. Results of the analysis indicate that the use of such problems does seem to have a positive impact in the conceptual reasoning of the students. However, students also report a generalized feeling of insecurity, for every new problem presented an emotional challenge, as well as a challenge to their assumptions. The analysis also indicates that it is important to seek a proper balance between the qualitative and quantitative components of the problems suggested to the students. As a conclusion, the article will offer a summary of the most important problem features in the promotion of conceptual understanding, as far as the results of this investigation are concerned.
Peer review: yes
ISBN: 978-2-87352-003-8
Appears in Collections:ESTGA - Comunicações

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