Lenses, pinholes, screens, and the eye

The Physics Teacher 01/1991; 29(4):221-224. DOI: 10.1119/1.2343285
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    ABSTRACT: This paper reports on a study that was designed to investigate the knowledge about image formation exhibited by students following instruction in geometrical optics in an activity-based college physics course for prospective elementary teachers. Students were interviewed individually, using several tasks involving simple apparatus (plane and curved mirrors, lenses, and prisms). The diagrams drawn by the students and the verbal comments they made provide evidence that their knowledge can be described as an intermediate state, a hybridization of preinstruction knowledge (which is dominated by a holistic conceptualization) and formal physics knowledge. We infer from our data the core concepts and main ideas of the postinstruction students' hybrid knowledge. Finally, by comparing preinstruction and formal physics conceptualizations of image formation we argue that a strong type of knowledge restructuring (in the sense of Carey, S., 1986: American Psychologist, 41, 1123-1130; Vosianou, S., & Brewer, W.F., 1987: Review of Educational Research, 57, 51-67) is required for students to acquire the latter.
    Journal of Research in Science Teaching 08/2006; 30(3):271 - 301. · 2.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study explored high school and teacher-training college students' knowledge of light, vision and related topics before and after commonly practised instruction. This knowledge was analysed and interpreted in the light of premises for the construction of alternative knowledge by learners of optics. A hierarchical structure was suggested to represent the collective conceptual knowledge of students in terms of facets and schemes of knowledge. ‘Abundance’ and ‘gain’ coefficients permitted quantitative description of the spread and alteration of the facets and schemes. In place of confronting misconceptions individually, schemes provide a basis for the design of more effective methods of instruction to challenge the fundamental patterns of alternative knowledge. Student misconceptions identified in other studies were included for comparison. On the basis of the study, suggestions are made for modifications in curricula to improve optics instruction.
    International Journal of Science Education 01/2000; 22(1):57-88. · 1.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Results from an investigation of student understanding of physical optics indicate that university students who have studied this topic at the introductory level and beyond often cannot account for the pattern produced on a screen when light is incident on a single or double slit. Many do not know whether to apply geometrical or physical optics to a given situation and may inappropriately combine elements of both. Some specific difficulties that were identified for single and double slits proved to be sufficiently serious to preclude students from acquiring even a qualitative understanding of the wave model for light. In addition, we found that students in advanced courses often had mistaken beliefs about photons, which they incorporated into their interpretation of the wave model for matter. A major objective of this investigation was to build a research base for the design of a curriculum to help students develop a functional understanding of introductory optics.
    American Journal of Physics 02/1999; 67(2):146-155. · 0.78 Impact Factor