UBC Theses and Dissertations
A piagetian analysis of intellectual performance on first-year university physics examinations Hewson, Mariana Gay A'Beckett
This thesis is addressed to a problem in classroom practice identified as formative evaluation, that is, the development of a method of utilizing Piaget's theory of intellectual development to evaluate the intellectual performance of students contending with the formal concepts and methods of inquiry presented in a first year physics course with a view to improving instruction in the course. The method of studying the problem required a good understanding and analysis of the relevant aspects of Piaget's theory so that it could be reformulated in such a way as to be unable in identifying formal behaviour of individuals' answers to specially selected examination items. This resulted in the formulation of a methodology in the form of an inventory of descriptors, and a method of analysis for identifying behaviour at the final stage of Piaget's developmental sequence, namely the formal operations stage. Method of Study The inventory of descriptors was used to identify formal operational behaviour of students performance on selected Piaget tasks, providing information concerning their maximum potential level of intellectual development. It was then used to identify physics examination items which required formal operations for their solution and the formal operational behaviour displayed by students in responding to the selected items thereby providing information concerning the actual level of intellectual performance displayed by students in classroom situations. A comparison of identified intellectual behaviours provided information concerning the actual level of intellectual performance displayed by students in classroom situations. A comparison of identified intellectual behaviours provided information concerning the usefulness of such an instrument in education. Results of the Study It was concluded that the inventory of descriptors adequately described and identified intellectual behaviour at the formal operations level, both in student performance on the Piaget tasks, and in student performance on selected items from the physics examination paper. The inventory of descriptors proved to be of potential value to formative evaluation in the classroom situation.
Item Citations and Data