Students’ Conceptions about the Nature of Sound: A Study of Their Evolution and Their Dependence on the State of Matter of the Medium

By Stefanos Iconomou and Michael Skoumios.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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This study focuses on exploring conceptions of Greek secondary school students about sound. In particular, it aims to: (a) identify the conceptions of students about the nature of sound, (b) investigate the evolution of such conceptions as students move from the age of 13 to the age of 15 years and (c) study their dependence on the state of matter of the medium through which sound propagates (gas, liquid, solid). As a data collection research tool, a written questionnaire designed specifically for the purposes of research, was used. This was completed by 164 secondary school students (84 thirteen year-olds and 80 fifteen year-olds) from schools in Greece. The analysis of these results identified the conceptions that students activated about the nature of sound and highlighted their durability. Moreover, the results showed that students activate alternative conceptions about the nature of sound, which are different from school-acquired knowledge (wave nature of sound). Regarding the evolution of students’ conceptions about the nature of sound, it can be seen that conceptions remain almost unchanged during the “transition” of students from the age of 13 to the age of 15. Additionally, it was found that students’ conceptions about the nature of sound are more unclear when the medium is in solid state than in gaseous state.

Keywords: Students’ Conceptions, Context Dependence of Conceptions, Nature of Sound, Science Education

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.51-62. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 476.755KB).

Stefanos Iconomou

Teacher, Hellenic Open University, Peiraias, Greece

Stefanos Iconomou obtained a first degree in Physics from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in 2001, a Master's in Electronics and Telecoms from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in 2003 and a second Master's degree in Education from the Hellenic Open University in 2011. His research interests include science concept learning and teaching science in secondary schools. He is currently teaching Science in secondary education in High School (Greece).

Dr. Michael Skoumios

Lecturer, University of Aegean, Rhodes, Dodecanisa, Greece

Michael Skoumios obtained a first degree in Physics from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in 1987, a second degree in Education from the University of Aegean in 1992 and his PhD in Science Education from the Hellenic Open University in 2005. His research interests include science concept learning and teaching science in primary and secondary schools. He is currently teaching Science Education in the Department of Primary Education of the University of the Aegean (Greece).