Date: May 2016
Creator: Kirby, Benjamin
Description: The purpose of this study was to examine the conceptual understandings of 55 elementary preservice teachers for the concept of buoyancy. This study used Ausubel’s Assimilation Theory (Ausubel, 1963) as a framework for a 15-week intervention that used pre/post concept maps (Cmaps), pre/post face-to-face semi-structured interviews, and drawings as evidences for change of formation of cognitive structures. Using a convergent parallel design and mixed methods approach, preservice teachers’ conceptions were analyzed using these evidences. Results of the study show that preservice teachers held both scientific conceptions and misconceptions about buoyancy as a force before and after an instructional intervention. Of importance were the existence of robust misconceptions about buoyancy that included inaccurate scientific knowledge about the foundational concepts of gravity, weight, mass, and density. The largest gains in scientific knowledge included the concepts of gravity, surface area, opposing forces, and the buoyant force. These concepts were consistently supported with evidence from post-concept maps, post, semi-structured interviews, and drawings. However, high frequencies of misconceptions were associated with these same aforementioned concepts as well as additional misconceptions about buoyancy-related concepts (i.e., weight, density, displacement, and sinking/floating). A paired t test showed a statistically significant difference (t = -3.504, p = .001) in ...
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