Changing University Students’ Alternative Conceptions of Optics by Active Learning
Active learning is individual and group participation in effective activities such as in-class observing, writing, experimenting, discussion, solving problems, and talking about to-be-learned topics. Some instructors believe that active learning is impossible, or at least extremely difficult to achieve in large lecture sessions. Nevertheless, the truly impressive implementation results of the SCALE-UP learning environment suggest that such beliefs are false (Beichner et al., 2000). In this study, we present a design of an active learning environment with positive effect on students. The design is based on the following elements: (1) helping students to learn from interactive lecture experiment; (2) guiding students to use justified explanation and prediction after observing and exploring a phenomenon; (3) developing a conceptual question sequence designed for use in an interactive lecture with students answering questions
in worksheets by writing and drawing; (4) evaluating students’ conceptual change and gains by questions related to light reflection, refraction, and image formation in an exam held a week after the active learning session. Data were collected from 95 science freshmen with different secondary school backgrounds. They participated in geometrical optics classes organized for collecting research results during and after only one active learning session. The results have showed that around 60% of the students changed their initial alternative conceptions of vision and of image formation. It was also found that a large group of university students is likely to be engaged in active learning, shifting from a passive role they usually play during teacher’s lectures.
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