Using Visual Learning To Teach Physics In A Class Research Paper

Length: 10 pages Sources: 10 Subject: Film Type: Research Paper Paper: #95158449 Related Topics: Phenomenology, English Language Learners, Learning Styles, Teaching Strategies

Excerpt from Research Paper :

¶ … ELLs to Learn Kinematics: A Phenomenological Assessment

This study aims to discover the effective methods of teaching English language learners (ELLs) the basics of kinematics in an introductory course to physics. The students chosen from a selective sample had no incoming knowledge of kinematics and their language skills were limited. The teacher utilized three different methods and tested them in a phenomenological manner, using qualitative and quantitative data to analyze outcomes. The methods employed were visual learning, mathematical learning and role play learning. The results were measured through direct observation, interview and testing results. Pre-trial tests and interviews were conducted, enthusiasm was monitored by the teacher in the class, and the post-trial assessment tests and interviews with students were also conducted. The students showed that with each introduction of a new method, their learning increased and when the three methods were combined over the course of a week, their schools and enthusiasm for the subject also increased. These findings suggest that a mixed-method approach to teaching kinematics to ELLs can have positive impact on students who had no prior knowledge of the subject.

Helping ELLs to Learn Kinematics: A Phenomenological Assessment


Understanding physics concepts is a difficult task for most science students in general (Hake, 1998). This may be due to misconception, limited prior knowledge, or language barriers. The students in my school possessed limited prior knowledge and were impacted by language barrier. However, to address this issue, it is deemed relevant to assess the impact of teachers' instruction; if the teacher comes into the classroom with the same type of planning, same strategies, same questions, resources and evaluation techniques, then this may bore the students. Learners need to be engaged with different ways of representation of the same concept. This idea is also intended to help learners internalize certain abstract concepts through the engagement of more than one sense at a time (Sharma, 2006).

Context of the Study

The school under assessment is Pan American International high school. I am a teacher in this school. My students are 100% Hispanic and 11th grade ELL (English Language Learner) students, and I have chosen the strongest students from 11th grade in my school. They know English but are limited in conversation skills (this is why I have chosen visual, math, and role-play methods to help them learn). They are weak in math and science (their average on state tests are 70%), they have never learned physics before, and I used after school and Saturday school time to tutor (teach) them about physics / kinematics.

Focus of the Study

My focus is using different strategies: mathematical manipulation on equations, role-play (toy cars), and visuals (smart-notebook, similar to power point) to help them achieve better grades. I used Pre-test assessments to diagnose their prior knowledge, and every student failed the test. This was not unexpected. The next step was to begin instruction using the different methods -- visual, role-play and connecting each kinematics equations (4 equations) by mathematical manipulation, which will minimize my students' need to memorize all equations (essentially, they will only need to know 2 basic equations: Distance=Average velocity x Time, and Acceleration= Changing Velocity / changing time) and will be able to derive all kinematics equations from these two.

Research Question

The question this study aims to answer is: Will ELL students learn kinematics through mathematics, role-play and visual representations?

Literature Analysis

Lopez, Rodriguez, Esteban et al. (2013) show how students achieve success in schools by learning in their own style. The researchers suggest that students should devote themselves to learning in a way that is reflective and they should use theory-based learning methods. Students who are not successful do not take this method; their devotion is superficial and they are not really engaged and do not try to challenge themselves to learn new concepts. For this reason the researchers show in their study that when failure to achieve academic success happens it is because students are not employing the right learning style for themselves or are not engaging themselves fully. This determination that is inherent in them to grapple with new ideas and they also need to develop their character in order to strengthen their resolve to wrestle with concepts that are foreign to them. This is the secret to what Tough (2012) calls long-term success in the classroom. The teacher should not be afraid to push the students to explore their range and should always be open to challenging them in new and different ways to see how they are impacted.

Boyle, Duffy and Dunleavy (2003) focus their study on the ways in which students learn. They emphasize four paths to learning: reproduction-learning, application-learning, undirected-learning and meaning directed learning. Meaning-directed learning is about learning how to identify meanings and concepts. Reproduction-learning is about memorizing and reproducing the right answers. Application-learning is about learning principles and using them to solve problems. Undirected-learning is about exposing the student to various ways and ideas and allowing the student to proceed in his or her own way. The researchers found that of these four ways of learning undirected learning gave the fewest obstacles to learning while meaning-directed learning did not have a strong positive impact on success at all. The researchers show that a student's success is determined by the student finding the way of learning that fits him or her and using that. The researchers recommend giving students choices of learning and supporting them along the way with encouragement.

Research Plan/Data Sources

The research plan involves observing the students as they interact with the subject of kinematics in the classroom via the 3 different methods of learning. I will employ the phenomenological method of research in this study, using observation methods as well as examination of direct results using testing of the students to supplement the qualitative assessment with a quantitative measure of their ability to learn, comprehend and apply knowledge of kinematics. The tests will include assessment of how well the student is able to memorize concepts, how well the student understands the concept and can explain it, and how well the student can apply the concept in a problem. These tests will be given after each session of learning method.

Interviews will also be conducted in pre-trial analysis and post-trial analysis by dividing students into two groups -- those who memorize a formula and apply it but have no sense of concept and those who understand the concept and apply the mathematics to solve the problems. Students will be asked permission for their information to keep in accordance with ethical guidelines and no names will be revealed so as to protect identities (Bournot, 2005; Bonauto, 2008; Dewey, 2013)

The main method, however, is observation, because these learning methods will not be divided up into a specific focus but will be used interchangeably over the give time of the course. How the students respond to them in the classroom will be analyzed; facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, verbal expressions, mood, enthusiasm levels and interaction will all be noted by the researcher throughout. These observations will be used to give the phenomenological assessment (Morgan, 2006).

Data Analysis Methods

Analysis methods used for this study will include Likert scaling of observations and test results, of 1-5, with 1 showing little impact or improvement and 5 showing great impact/improvement. Clason and Dormody (1994) assert that "Likert scaling presumes the existence of an underlying (or latent or natural) continuous variable whose value characterizes the respondents' attitudes and opinions. If it were possible to measure the latent variable directly, the measurement scale would be, at best, an interval scale," (p. 34).

Also the method of data analysis that will be used to assess the phenomenon of the students' reaction to the learning methods will be the method suggested by Lin (2013) which involved identifying common themes and patterns and using eidetic reduction to eliminate superfluous information so that the researcher can see more deeply into how students are engaging with the methods. This involves reducing "noise" by looking "between the lines" at what is happening in the students' involvement process (Lin, 2013, p. 470). The information can then be codified and situated for clearer understanding. As Cresswell says the point of phenomenological study is "to reduce individual experiences with a phenomenon to a description of the universal essence" (Creswell, 2007, p.…

Sources Used in Documents:


Bonauto, M. (2008). The legal rights of public school students and teachers in Massachusetts. Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders: 1-26.

Bournot, M. (2005). Ethical dilemmas facing action researchers. The Journal of Educational Thought, 39(2), 197-215.

Boyle, E., Duffy, T., Dunleavy, K. (2003). Learning styles and academic outcome: The validity and utility of Vermunt's inventory of learning styles in a British higher education setting. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 73(2): 267-290.

Clason, D. L., Dormody, T. J. (1994). Analyzing data measured by individual Likert-

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