Utilizing Concrete Manipulatives in Contextually Distinct Situations to Assess Middle School Students’ Meanings of Force

Gokhan Ozdemir
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Students’ alternative conceptions of force are one of the most studied topics, important for both science assessment and instruction. Previous studies often described students’ alternative conceptions of force with a small number of well-known frameworks by utilizing interviews and paper-pencil tests in their assessments. This study aims to explore middle school students’ meanings of force with a refined assessment tool that provides a) apparent contextually different situations, b) realistic and familiar situations, and c) presentation of the situations with concrete manipulatives in questioning. Eight 8th grade students studying in the same public school were selected for the interviews. The students’ responses to the interview questions were qualitatively analyzed and described in terms of their force meanings. The results of the study indicates that the students’ meanings of force are multiple and divergent. Seven new meanings of force that have not been captured in previous studies were determined in the students’ responses, in addition to the well-known meanings of force. The implications derived from the results of the study were discussed in terms of the potential influence of the refined assessment tool on the students’ reasoning and classroom practices for conceptual change.

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