Significance of understanding and writing in studying physics in secondary classrooms


Doris S. Daley

The aim of this study was to understand physics teachers’ and secondary students’ perceptions of reading and writing to learn activities in physics and to determine students’ strategies in performing reading and writing tasks. A case study strategy was employed in this study, involving 42 10th grade secondary students and two physics teachers in a secondary school in the spring term of 2007 - 2008 academic year. Student questionnaires consisting of 28 Likert- type items and 5 open-ended questions, observational field notes and a semi-structured interview protocol for teachers were used as data gathering tools. Findings revealed that both teachers and secondary students found the reading and writing to learn activities very useful and effective in conceptual understanding of physics and failed to develop students’ procedural or computational skills. Using the Internet as authentic read text, visual representations and unfamiliar activities aroused students’ situational interest, leading to improvement in personal interest through active engagement, conceptual understanding and control over their learning. The university entrance exam, which requires more computational skills or understanding and dominates thinking, was seen as a big challenge for teachers to use reading and writing activities in secondary physics classrooms.

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  • Sherpa Romeo