Journal directory listing - Volume 31-41 (1986-1996) - Volume 40 (1995)

Conceptual Change of Moon Phases Author: Mei-Hung Chiu, Ing-Shyan Chern(Graduate Institute of Science Education, National Taiwan Normal University)


Sevreal earlier studies have found the most common misconceptions of the moon phases is the belief that they are caused by the shadow of the earth. In this study, we investigate middle school students' procession of the knowledge of moon phases, and uncover the critical point of the conceptual change of learning about the moon phases.
In this study, 24 ninth-grade students are stratfied by gender and spatial abilities first, and then randomly assigned to three groups equally. One is called self-explanations group in which students are required to provide explanations of the text while reading. The second group is called model group in which the students are pro-vided with a moon-phase model. The students have to explain each phenomenon in ac-cordance with the model. The third model is a control group in which the students are not asked to do anything specifically. The design of the study has three phases: pretest, treatment, and posttest.
The results reveal that the students' spatial ability is a main factor. In general, high spatial ability students outperform low spatial ability students in every group. For high spatial ability students, there is no difference between the students in the model group and self-explanation group. And the high spatial ability students in both groups are bet-ter than the control group. However, the low spatial ability students in the model group outperformed those in the control group, the self-explanation group was the worst. The results also suggest that it is difficult to learn the moon phases from two dimensional representations, particularly, for the low spatial ability students. The relevance of this research for instruction, curriculum design, and models of learning is then discussed.

Keywords:Moon phase, spatial ability, self-explanation, model

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