Activity Based Modules

I observed that the alternative conceptions were related to understanding of various prerequisite concepts related to central concept. Thus, I realised that it was not enough to develop an isolated activity only addressing a central alternative conception. It was equally important to consider all the interlinked concepts and their interconnections for building adequate conceptual understanding, which will help students to overcome the central alternative conception. Therefore, the activity-based module consisted of a central activity addressing the central alternative conception supported by various sub-activities, each addressing the interlinked prerequisite concepts. My another aim was to come up with a comprehensive activity-based module for a particular central alternative conception, in a form adaptable either as a lecture-demonstration or as an activity for the laboratory course.

Overall, my approach can be considered as incremental in developing the understanding that is necessary for the students to overcome the central alternative conception. The design and development of the modules planned this way went through several iterations. When I observed the students’ responses with respect to each of the activity at a given stage of iteration, I could identify the areas of improvement and suitable refinements were made with respect to 1. design of the activities, 2. the proto-type instruments and 3. the activity sheets.
Both the modules were administered to the students using the predict-observe-explain approach and along the guidelines for conceptual change based activity sessions. The module began with a conceptual question describing a situation. It was made sure that each student makes a prediction. The central activity provided a concrete experience related to the situation presented as a part of conceptual question. The activities were demonstrated to the students in the module on thermal equilibrium whereas students performed some of the activities in the module on the first law of thermodynamics. The perceptible experience and questions in the activity sheets helped in generating cognitive conflict for students. The supporting sub-activities and discussions conducted by the researcher generated opportunities for students to engage with cognitive reappraisal of the situation so as to resolve the conflict.

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