Fostering High School Students’ Conceptual Understandings About Seasons: The Design of a Technology-enhanced Learning Environment
The purpose of this study is to understand in what ways a technology-enhanced learning (TEL) environment supports learning about the causes of the seasons. The environment was designed to engage students in five cognitive phases: Contextualisation, Sense making, Exploration, Modeling, and Application. Seventy-five high school students participated in this study and multiple sources of data were collected to investigate students’ conceptual understandings and the interactions between the design of the environment and students’ alternative conceptions. The findings show that the number of alternative conceptions held by students were reduced except for the incorrect concepts of “the length of sunshine” and “the distance between the sun and the earth.” The percentage of partial explanations held by students was also reduced from 60.5 to 55.3% and the percentage of students holding complete scientific explanations after using Lesson Seasons rose from 2.6 to 15.8%. While some students succeeded in modeling their science concepts closely to the expert’s concepts, some failed to do so after the invention. The unsuccessful students could
not remediate their alternative conceptions without explicit guidance and scaffolding. Future research can then be focused on understanding how to provide proper scaffoldings for removing some alternative concepts which are highly resistant to change.