Learning about A level physics students’ understandings of particle physics using concept mapping

Gourlay, H (2016) Learning about A level physics students’ understandings of particle physics using concept mapping. Physics Education, 52 (1). ISSN 0031-9120

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This paper describes a small-scale piece of research using concept mapping to elicit A level students’ understandings of particle physics. Fifty-nine Year 12 (16- and 17-year-old) students from two London schools participated. The exercise took place during school physics lessons. Students were instructed how to make a concept map and were provided with 24 topic-specific key words. Students’ concept maps were analysed by identifying the knowledge propositions they represented, enumerating how many students had made each one, and by identifying errors and potential misconceptions, with reference to the specification they were studying. The only correct statement made by a majority of students in both schools was that annihilation takes place when matter and antimatter collide, although there was evidence that some students were unable to distinguish between annihilation and pair production. A high proportion of students knew of up, down and strange quarks, and that the electron is a lepton. However, some students appeared to have a misconception that everything is made of quarks. Students found it harder to classify tau particles than they did electrons and muons. Where students made incorrect links about muons and tau particles their concept maps suggested that they thought they were mesons or quarks.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: particle physics,concept mapping,a level,physics education,science education
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Research in Mathematics Education
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Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2017 02:18
Last Modified: 12 May 2023 00:29
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/62596
DOI: 10.1088/1361-6552/52/1/014001

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