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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sonic journeys : a study of students’ conceptualizations of sound and hearing Webber, George D.


This study was conducted to investigate changes in students' conceptualizations during the teaching of the following topics related to sound: I) the characteristics of sound (frequency, pitch, frequency ranges, and uses of sound); 2) the transmission of sound; and 3) the reception of sound (the ear's anatomy and physiology). The study was conducted in a Science 8 class in a small British Columbia town. The students' conceptualizations were chronicled and categorized to show how they were influenced by classroom instruction and activities. Four students' conceptualizations during the unit were represented as sonic journeys, to show changes or maintenance of previously held ideas. Comparisons were made between the students' conceptualizations of various sound topics at the beginning, middle and end of the teaching. Additionally, comparisons of the four students' conceptualizations were made. Students' conceptualizations were not static. Their ideas were influenced by the teaching and activities comprising the units on sound and hearing. Students developed scientific conceptualizations more readily for topics related to sound which were concrete (related to their immediate experience) than topics which were abstract (requiring non-experiential, theoretical explanations). Students' prior ideas continued to affect their conceptualizations throughout the course of the study. However, students did change their "ideas" as they became aware of their prior ideas and related them to the new concepts presented in the teaching. Thus real learning requires time for these conceptual changes to occur.

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