Using concept mapping to learn about A level physics students’ understandings of particle physics
STEM Education Research Group, Department of Education, Brunel University London, Kingston Lane, Uxbridge, UB8 3PH
Published online: 3 August 2018
This article describes a small-scale piece of research using concept mapping to elicit A level students’ understandings of particle physics, which was presented in the Special Session on Physics Education and Outreach at ICNFP 2017. Fifty-nine Year 12 (16- and 17-year-old) students from two London schools participated in the research. The exercise took place during school physics lessons. Students were shown how to make a concept map and were provided with topic-specific key words. Their concept maps were analysed by identifying the knowledge propositions the students had represented, and comparing these with propositions developed from the examination specification they were studying. The only correct statement made by most of the students in both schools was that annihilation takes place when matter and antimatter collide, although some students may have been unable to distinguish between annihilation and pair production. A high proportion of students knew of up, down and strange quarks, and that the electron is a lepton. However, some students appeared to have a misconception that everything is made of quarks. Students found it harder to classify tau particles than they did electrons and muons. Where students made incorrect links about muons and tau particles their concept maps suggested that they thought they were mesons or quarks.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences 2018
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.