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The effect of three cognitive variables on students' understanding of the particulate nature of matter and its changes of state

[journal article]

Stamovlasis, Dimitrios; Tsitsipis, Georgios; Papageorgiou, George

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Abstract In this study, students' understanding of the structure of matter and its changes of state, such as, melting, evaporation, boiling and condensation was investigated in relation to three cognitive variables: logical thinking, field-dependence/ field-independence and convergence/ divergence dimension. The study took place in Greece with the participation of 329 ninth-grade junior high school pupils (age 14-15). A stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed that all of the above mentioned cognitive variables were statistically significant predictors of the students' achievement. Among the three predictors, logical thinking was found to be the most dominant one. In addition, students’ understanding of the structure of matter, along with the cognitive variables, were shown to have an effect on their understanding the changes of states and on their competence to interpret these physical changes. Path analyses were implemented to depict these effects. Moreover, a theoretical analysis is provided that associates logical thinking and cognitive styles with the nature of mental tasks involved when learning the material concerning the particulate nature of matter and its changes of state. Implications for science education are also discussed.
Classification Secondary Education Sector Lower Level; General Psychology
Free Keywords particulate structure of matter; changes of state; logical thinking; cognitive styles; field-dependence/ field-independence; convergence/ divergence thinking
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
Page/Pages p. 987-1016
Journal International Journal of Science Education, 32 (2010) 8
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500690902893605
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)