An Empirical Study on the Evolution of Students’ Perceptions in Basic Concepts of Physics of Primary and Secondary Education in Cyprus

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Dimitris Panagou
Konstantinos T. Kotsis
Georgios Stylos


In recent years, more and more systematic research has been conducted in the field of sciences, focusing on identifying alternative ideas that the students have for essential concepts and principles of physics. As a result of this, the production of essential and valuable bibliography internationally in various science fields, including Mechanics. In the present paper, we focus on physics, particularly in classical mechanics concepts, including key concepts such as weight, energy, force, action/reaction, and work. A multiple-choice questionnaire is given to senior students of primary school, middle school, and Cyprus's high school. We analyze the percentage of correct and incorrect responses of the three survey groups to determine whether it is related to the group's age or represents statistical fluctuations. For most questions, there is a statistically significant correlation with age, as opposed to gender, which does not appear to play a role in students' correct answers. In particular, our results suggest that the alternative conceptions of students, reflecting misconceptions and preconceptions, reduce with age or equivalently with the education level. Nevertheless, there are also many questions for which such a correlation cannot be established. Our study can be used in science teaching, on the design of Curricula, and teachers' professional development.

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Research / Empirical