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Patterns of physics problem-solving among secondary school students – a metacognitive perspective

Phang, F. A. (2009) Patterns of physics problem-solving among secondary school students – a metacognitive perspective. In: Excellence in Education 2008: Future Mind & Creativity. The International Centre for Innovation in Education (ICIE), Ulm-Germany, pp. 1012-1027. ISBN 978-9957-476-03-8

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Recent work suggests that metacognitive skills play a vital role in problem-sol ving. Yet, there are only a few studies looking specifically into the role of metaco gnitive skills in Physics problem-solving, especially among the secondary school students. The research discusse d here is an attempt to investigate the patterns of Physics problem-solving among Key Stage 4 (14-16 years old) students in Cambridge through the lens of metacognition using Grounded Theory. In order to match the students with “real” problems (i.e. that are difficult for them but solvable), 148 students from 5 schools were given a Physics Problems Test (PhyPT) consists of 6-8 Physics “problems” and followed by 2 questions to measur e the level of difficulty of each problem. Later, 22 students were selected as theoretical sample (at different stages of the research) to undergo a session of individual problem-solving using thinking-aloud and observation by the researcher, followed by retrospective semi-structured interviews. In order to reach the theoretical saturation point, a few more problems were constructed to match the level of difficulty and concep tual understanding of thes e selected students. The thinking-aloud was being recorded, transcribed and coded using the constant comparative method of Grounded Theory. The analysis of the thinking-aloud protocols was supported by the analyses of data from the interviews, observations using video and analysis of answer sheets. The data analyses further suggested a few hypotheses to look in detail in order to generate more concrete pattern of Physics problem-solving. The repetition of the research in different format of prob lems and cycles of data collection- analysis produced two problem-solving patterns among the students. The saturated patterns suggest that students show different approaches when facing easy questions and difficult problems. The easy-question pattern is quite consistent and “expert-like” while more metacognitive skills are shown in the difficult-problem patte rns. Students resort to means-end, trial-and-error and guessing strategies when facing with difficult problems. While in the easy-questions, the students are more likely to tell the concept involved and search for equation that is relevant to the questions due to the familiarity of the students with the questions. This suggests that training in doing particular types of exercise can help students in answering the questions easily, however, this doesn’t mean that students have good problem-solving skills. In solving difficult problems, metacognitive skills help studen ts to understand the proble ms and check the error by making sense of the answers obtained. Hence, it is a good practice for students to self-talk while solving a difficult Physics problem to improve the problem-solving.

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Q Science > QC Physics
ID Code:14759
Deposited By: Siti Khairiyah Nordin
Deposited On:12 Sep 2011 01:56
Last Modified:13 Aug 2017 01:45

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