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Research Proposal

:
Comparing Epistemic Cognition of Male and Female Students in
Learning Physics With and Without Formulas

A. Background

The rapid development of technology has resulted in a higher demand for more experts in the field
of science. However, people's interest in science, especially in physics keeps decreasing and
therefore there is a lack of experts in this field. There is a decline in interest to study science and a
lack of enthusiasm to take physics course in school or avoiding physics as a college major. The
decline in enrollment and graduation rates in physics at all levels has been the case in many coun-
tries not only in developed countries but also in developing countries (e.g. Buccheri, Grazia; Gür-
ber, Nadja Abt; Brühwiler, Christian 2011; Semela, Tesfaye 2010).

The declining interest to study physics, however, has no direct correlation to students’ attitude and
view on the importance of the subject. For instance, Indonesian students put more effort in doing
work than students in other countries do. Indonesian students also spend more time in doing
homework. Besides the extra effort they put in, Indonesian students also have a positive attitude
towards learning physics. Indonesia ranked first as the country with 82% of its students having the
most positive outlook about learning physics. Not only do students give their best in learning
physics, but teachers also spend more time preparing the materials to teach physics. However, the
learning outcome of Indonesia's grade 8th science ranked 35th out of 49 countries. The hard work
and positive view on the importance of studying physics, however, do not yield satisfactory learn-
ing outcomes and this frustrates students. This is indicated by the low survey results of students’
self-esteem. Only 29% of Indonesian students stated that they are confident in learning physics.
This result is far below than the average result of all the countries in the world, which is 41% (Mar-
tin, Michael O; Mullis, Ina V.S; Foy, Pierre; TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center 2008).

Another issue in the world of science is the discrepancy on the achievement and participation of
women and men in physics. The discrepancies are shown as early as the elementary level up to
the college level, where female students have higher performance than male students. Despite
this condition, female students are less interested to take physics course in high school. Women
are greatly underrepresented in more advanced degrees: 21% take a master’s degree and 13%
take a doctoral degree in physics (Taasoobshirazi, Gita; Carr, Martha 2008).

Syaiful Lokan 1

they are more efficient in solving problems. Gita. but mathematics and physics are compared as if they are two different languages spoken in different dialects. assuming there are no changes in the mass and no external forces applied. This habit of memorizing formulas has become widely used not only by students. David. Instead of teach- ing Newton’s concepts. K 1984). Experts. this formula appears F=m X a. teachers and textbooks only present this formula F = m X a to students.Several experts such as Taasoobshirazi. but also by teacher (Kurki-Suonio. Although mathematics is a branch of science. Many science instructions and assessments in the elementary. Martha (2008) make an approach to analyze the gender differences. middle and high school classrooms involve the memorization of scientific terms. novice's strategies are relying on data so they start from what is given and work towards it for a solution. Teachers have been using formulas as teaching aids which create students who are dependent on memorizing formulas just to be able to answer questions. Memorizing formulas is a quick remedy because students fail to understand the epistemology that has built the physics concepts (Hammer. This is because they do not have the knowledge needed to set up and carry out a solution from start to finish. The concept brought forward by Isaac Newton is the law of Momentum Conservation which birthed Newton’s second law: “The change of motion [of a body] is proportional to the mo- tive force impressed. K 1984). have a good understand- ing of the complete problem solving process. 1983). Lakes. Thus. which is why females are able to perform as well as or even better than males in science classes at the middle school level or below. In solving problems. on the contrary. Carr. Newton’s second law. This approach leads to rote learning instead of meaningful learning like novices experience. Junior high school students are required to memo- Syaiful Lokan 2 . which is very conceptual. Marsha K. Andrew 2003). Jane Butler. An example of how students and teachers stray from the basic conceptual forms is the use of Newton Law. Students will only read the questions and change the variables to the numbers that are provided without understanding the underlying concepts. Memorization will lead students to use formulas as the only method to solve problems. Formulas are the easy way out to solve problems and this has become a legacy that is passed on to genera- tions by teachers. There are differences in strategy on how novice and experts solve prob- lems.” Unfortunately. When Newton’s second law is approached mathematically. and is made in the direction of the straight line in which that force is im- pressed. is not taught conceptually to students. facts and as well as inserting numerical from word problems into the desired formulas (Kurki-Suonio. Elby. Females tend to describe learning sci- ence as memorizing facts (Kahle. Physicists tend to combine physics concepts and mathematical symbols which ultimately complicate students.

Vicentini. Experiments are designed for students to be able to deal with tougher situations and this is when the transferring process occurs (Lobato. they not only retain information. while in rote learning students are only able to retain it. This is causing students to find it difficult to learn physics. Students’ ability to transfer is indicated by students’ ability to solve problems. This approach leads students to focus more on what is ahead of them. Retention process is crucial to meaningful learning and problem solving when knowledge is applied to more complex and unfamiliar tasks. and for kinematics alone. 2004). but they also need to interpret mathematical symbols. When students transfer. The main purpose of learning is to promote retention and transfer. An example is when students are asked to build an electrical circuit to maximize the pace of electrons or when they apply the Ohm’s Law to explain a much more complicated electrical circuit. Retention is the ability to retain information for a period of time. Furthermore.. Bing and Redish (2009) examined the type of resources students use when they “get stuck.rize numerous formulas. they focus on what they did and remem- ber in the past. Not only do they need to understand physics concepts. Student’s difficulty to do knowledge transfer are well predicted and explained using the epistemo- logical framework (Redish. When students retain what they have learned. F. Syaiful Lokan 3 . The ability to answer easily indicates understanding of the basic physics concepts. they need to remember at least ten formulas. Lising and Elby (2005) used the model to show a causal link between a student’s epistemological stance and their learning outcomes. Joanne 2003). E. The ability to transfer knowledge is important in learning physics. but are also able to apply it in a meaning- ful way. Based on that understanding. Redish. M. but students should be able to apply the knowledge to their everyday life. Edward. May- er (2002) stated that meaningful learning occurs when students are able to retain and transfer knowledge. According to Yokoyama (1984) the obstacle that students face is their inability to use their prior knowledge to solve new problems and this is mainly because students are unaware of the cognitive process to apply the knowledge they have to answer the questions given. and transfer is the ability to apply what is learned to solve new problems. Transferring knowledge is not just being able to answer different questions about what is taught. An example of this is when they are expected to rewrite the Ohm’s Law formula.” while Tuminaro and Redish (2007) showed how epistemological resources can produce student behavioral patterns in the classroom.

E. She may know her doll’s name because “I made it up” (knowledge as fabricated stuff). E. M. A student may “know” that a big car hitting a small car exerts a bigger force on the small car than the small car exerts on the big one because “the big one is stronger” (knowledge by p-prism) (Redish.The epistemic resources term that we used in this proposal refer to the processes and tools stu- dents use to decide they know something and to create knowledge. A small child may know what is for dinner because “Mommy told me” (knowledge as propagated stuff).. 2004).. Table 1. F.F. Edward. Vicentini. The epistemic views which will observe in this re- search are analysed according to the categories of epistemological resources suggested by Hammer and Elby (2003) as seen in Table 1. M. epistemic resources should not be thought of as always available but that they are likely to be activated in a context-dependent way. An example of the fluidity of the activation of epistemic resources is given by Hammer (2003) taht shows some students shifted the epistemis resources that they had activated for solving the problem form by authority to sense making (Re- dish. Individuals have a wide vari- ety of resources for constructing knowledge. Vicentini. The epistemological resources Categories Epistemological resources As propagated stuff Nature and source of knowledge As free creation As fabricated stuff Accumulation Formation Epistemological activities Checking Comparing Sorting Stories Rule systems Epistemological forms Categories Lists Statements Believing Doubting Epistemological stances Puzzlement Understanding Acceptance Syaiful Lokan 4 . Furthermore.. Redish. This suggests that we ought to focus on functional rather than on declarative epistemology. Società italiana di fisica 2004).

It represents a tightly bundled packet of information that. An epistemological resource is a cognitive modelling element. Martha 2008). Carr. epistemological resources affect how students perceive the nature of the situation under cur- rent consideration and they control what conceptual resources are brought to bear (Bing. Thomas J. Since. students process to understand and construct the knowledge will affect students learning. All support the idea that if we address issues related to beliefs concerning the structure of knowledge and the processes that aid in the attainment of knowledge. ideas or resources that are used according to context (Hammer. But an epistemological resource is a control structure.Meaningful learning only happens if students learn how to solve physics problem like en experts that work forward from a set of equations generated from the information provided in the problem. If the equation contains additional unknown variables that are not provided in the statement of the problems. when activated by the mind. Lising and Elby (2005) showed that there was a causal link between a student’s epistemological stance and learning. Edward F. This process not based on the under- standing of physics principles and laws so all the calculation produce not meaningfull eventough they got the expected results (Taasoobshirazi. Andrew 2003).. leads the individual to interpret the knowl- edge at hand in a certain light. our students will be better equipped to tackle the real world problems of efficiently using the knowledge they have and independently constructing new knowledge. This process is repeated until all variables are known or can be solved. Syaiful Lokan 5 . Several studies indicate that an advanced epistemology will produce more productive learners. 2009). It’s important to find out student’s personal epistemology and its development so we can find the way to improve the instrcutions. But the majority of students and teacher solve physics problem using a novice aproach which is working backward. Among personal epistemological tradition. David. Gita. concluding the solution sequence with the goal of the problem. Elby. Redish. aiming to solve for those unknown variables. in this research the writer will view a personal epistemology as a repertoire of beliefs. the novice creates additional equations. not a con- cept.

I Made 2012). 2. the epistemic stances shift difference between male and female students during learning physics with and without formulas. C. since case study is inherently superior to other alternatives such as surveys when data to be collected is not only verbal or textual (Bailey.D. Markus. want to find out and compare students’ epistemic cognition in studying physics with and without formulas and find out its different in male and female students. The participative method includes the re- searcher and the subject to be involved in the planning and researching and this means both par- ties benefit from the research (Jarg Bergold & Stefan Thomas 2012). Case study appropriate in this research. By knowing students’ epistemic cognition according to its gender. and it also helps them to acquire the competence to transfer learning to real life situation than the traditional Physics instruction with many formulas (Lokan. K.B. According to Creswell (2007) and Strauss- Corbin (1998). Methodology A qualitative design was selected to conduct a comparative case study of male and female junior high school students in learning physics with and without formulas. This is expected from the research to give a chance for the data to conceptualize a new theory. Analyze the observation results. Some students are interviewed to inquire their epistemic stances and form when solving the problems. the steps to collect and process data qualitatively are as follows: 1. we can contribute to physics instruction so meaningful learning happened in the classroom. 5. Teachers in the experimental class (learning physics without formulas) will be provided with script- ed lessons after they are given training about the benefits of teaching physics without formulas. Observe the experimental class and control class. There are several lessons to be delivered. 1994). Group the information into categories. Interview some students from both classes. According to Cresswell (2003). Both the experimental class and control class (learning physics with formulas) are observed. The comparative case study focuses on student’s epistemic resources. Objective The teaching of Physics without formulas is effective to help students obtain higher average gain scores in their learning outcomes. the qualitative research method gains information based on the constructivism perspective which then the data will be arranged according to the themes. 3. Syaiful. Cresswell (2007) stated that the qualitative method allows researchers to add new literature inquiry. Make a conclusion Syaiful Lokan 6 . This research. 4.

and are expected to further develop in the collaborative and the collegial context of the interviews. Issues to focus on will be selected according to the responses of each class to interview questions. Students solve some physics problem and Interviews with some students in each class (tenta- tively weeks 8-10) will focus on questions relating to the objective of the study and on emerg- ing questions related to issues of particular interest in each class environment (not predicable at this stage). to participate in the culture of the school and establish collaborative relationships. After several observations. Audio-recordings. 2. classroom dynamics. the final round of observations is designed to allow for the opportu- nity of investigating these context-specific issues. Accordingly. Syaiful Lokan 7 . 3. 4. Interpretation and analysis of responses are expected to reveal issues from the perspective of participants that may not have been trans- parent to me. in order to further ‘give voice’ to participants and ‘illuminate’ their meanings and interpretations. and examples of documentation will be collected throughout the process. The aim of the second round of observations is to develop understanding about processes of class interaction in each case. Final round of observations (tentatively weeks 10-12) will focus on issues of interest that have emerged from the interviews.Tentative plan for data collection: It is envisaged that the data collection process will proceed following an emergent framework. dur- ing a time period of twelve weeks (three months) per case setting. thereby minimising the effects of the ‘observer’s paradox’. photographs. what is the evidence that students’ be- come more advanced in their epistemic thinking. choose several teachers and train how to deliver physics lesson without formulas. 1. Context-specific questions will have emerged from the second round of observations. how has students’ epistemic cognition developed during course. Initial naturalistic observations in each case setting (tentatively weeks 1-3) will focus on ‘finding a feel’ for the school culture. Students will answer several physics problems and students are expected to do a think-aloud protocol. taking account of their context-specific questions. for a total of six months for two cases (experimental and control). The aims of the initial ob- servations are: to allow participants to feel comfortable in the presence of reseacher. Provide with scripted lesson and ask the teacher for a roleplay. Second round of observations (tentatively weeks 3-7) will focus on episodes of interaction around documentation of both classes (experimental and control). and interactions.

If Car 1 travels at 30 m/s and Car 2 travels at 45 m/s. they are closer 30+45= 75 m. the use of formulas also appears commonly in several topics such as: Optic. when students need to find the size and the position of the image. where will the cars meet relative to Car 1? My offer to solve both questions are using unit’s concept definition like this: 30 m/s of Car 1 means: Car 1 travel 30 m in 1 s. One of the common problems in kinematics is two objects toward one an- other and students are expected to find the time and location of the collision. Syaiful Lokan 8 .Physics without formulas in Kinematics: Teachers from experimental class are trained to deliver the instruction by not using formulas and using simple number. it is easier for students to understand the epis- temology that has built the linear motion’s concept.000 m requires 10. Car 1 travel 30 m/s X 10. What is the shift difference between local-temporal epistemic stances during learning physics with and without formulas? 3.000/75 = 6. when students us- ing ohm’s law to solve the circuit problem. To cover 10. Example: Car 1 and car 2 are 10. they are toward one another.000 m apart pointing toward one another. How has students’ epistemic cognition developed during course? What is the evidence that students’ become more advanced in their epistemic thinking? The writer hypothesizes that students will show more complex epistemic resources for male and female students that learn physics with formulas and this will result in more students especially female students taking up physics as a course. Since.000/75 s = 4. 45 m/s of Car 2 means: Car 2 travel 45 m in 1 s. Beside Kinematics.000 m By avoiding formulas and using the unit’s definition.000 m Car 2 travel 45 X 10. Research Questions and Hyphotheses This research tries to answer these questions: 1.000/75 s. Also. D. Each 1 s. What kinds of epistemic resources do male and female junior high school physics students bring into their physics class? 2. So.

E. This study contributes to the research and theory in personal epistomology. 2. 3. The constant decline of interest in physics course and the gender disparity issue where female are considered a minority in this particular course in U. and many countries will create a set back in the development of technology. Through understanding the epistemology process of student's after learning physics without formulas. The education system in Indonesia has a significant gap to the rest of the world. Syaiful Lokan 9 . This is be- cause instruction practice only focus on rote learning and not consider student’s epistomology cognition. Significance The benefits of this project are the following: 1. Mapping out the effects of learning physics without formulas and applying them to different sit- uations will overcome the scarcity of experts and teachers in physics. 4.S. a reformation can be applied to learning that supports gender equality and students' interest in physics. By understanding students' epistemology then we can change the instructions.

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