Studying Students' Difficulties in Understanding Wave Phenomena using Computer Simulations

D. Zarras and C. Solomonidou (Greece)


Students’ ideas, wave phenomena, web-based simulations, constructivist teaching method


This study investigated high school students’ alternative ideas related to wave phenomena, as well as a teaching approach especially designed to cope with students’ learning difficulties in this physics area. Initially, 77 Greek students, 15-16 year olds, answered a written open ended questionnaire. Data analysis showed that many students expressed pre-scientific ideas and seemed to have difficulties in understanding wave phenomena. We planned a specific 3-hour teaching approach with constructivist and collaborative learning activities using web-based simulations, to help students construct appropriate knowledge. After teaching, the students responded to an analogous written post-test questionnaire. Data analysis showed that this teaching sequence and the use of appropriate ICT tools had positive effects on students’ learning, including motivation for independent study.

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