Frames Of Reference And Students’ Conceptual Understanding Of Seasons
This thesis focused on students’ misconceptions in the topic of seasons. Its three investigations, explored the central question of: How do frames of reference influence students’ conceptual understanding of seasons? The results from these investigations found that some single frames of reference can limit students’ understanding of seasons or confuse students, while additional frames of reference can enhance students’ understanding. These three investigations were driven by the principles of design research methodology. They examined how frames of reference provided by: Starry NightTM software, 3D models and textbook diagrams influenced students’ understanding of seasons. The first investigation compared two groups of students. One group, the Egocentric Group (n=15), used Starry NightTM. The second group, the Exocentric Group (n=13), mainly used text diagrams and 3D models. This investigation isolated different frames of reference in students’ explanations of seasons. The results from this first
investigation revealed that different frames of reference limit students’ explanations of seasons.
The second investigation addressed findings from the first investigation and observed how sixteen, grade six students’ explanations about seasons changed as they were exposed to different frames of reference over the course of seven days for two hours per day. Students gave written explanations to the same questions about seasons during the first, fourth and seventh days. The results in this investigation revealed that students’ explanations of seasons changed gradually and incorporated their experiences as they were introduced to new frames of reference.
The third investigation explored what was happening to the students’ intuitive understanding of seasons as they moved between different frames of reference in a problem-solving situation. Qualitative discourse analysis from three pairs of students found that as students moved between different frames o f reference they brought different types of knowledge to bear on their initial ideas about seasons.
This thesis concluded that using a variety of frames of reference to teach students about seasons helps them relate to the topic in multiple ways. This method fosters better understanding of seasons and prepares students to explore other topics in astronomy.
Type of Publication
Chandra, Nalini M.
University of Toronto
Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
Number of Pages
Nation(s) of Study