22-30 July 2021
North-West University
Africa/Johannesburg timezone
More Information Coming Soon

Classification of Sound Conceptions

27 Jul 2021, 11:45
Potchefstroom Campus (North-West University)

Potchefstroom Campus

North-West University

Oral Presentation Track E - Physics for Development, Education and Outreach Physics for Development, Education and Outreach


Dr Derek Fish (University of Zululand)


Experience and other studies show that students come to our Science Centres with pre-existing ideas of how the world works (often called prior-, naïve- or mis-conceptions). When confronted with conflicting ideas from science they are forced to make a “border crossing” (Aikenhead, 1999) from the familiar territory of their cherished beliefs into the “unknown country” of science. How difficult this crossing is and how comfortable a student feels to remain in this new country depends on many factors both internal and external to the student. The challenge for our Science Centres is to assist students to cross these borders more easily and to remain in their new country without feeling threatened. An example will be given of student prior conceptions with regard to sound and waves: a brief literature survey will outline pre-existent conceptions noted around the world. The 4 level framework of (Grayson et al, 2001) is used to classify these conceptions and modify them in the light of data gathered. Student responses to a questionnaire provide multiple mode (MCQ, written and drawings) feedback into this process. The result is a modified table of local students’ prior conceptions with regard to sound and waves. This is a useful resource when designing (and improving) science shows, exhibits and other programme materials in this area. While the specific example of sound and waves will be the focus of this presentation, suggestions will be made of how this resource can be used in other subject areas.

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Primary author

Dr Derek Fish (University of Zululand)


Dr Nancy Pelaez (Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University) Saalih Allie (UCT) Dr Trevor Anderson (Department of Chemistry, Purdue University)

Presentation Materials

Peer reviewing