Effects of Concept Mapping Based Instruction on Students’ Achievement in Physics in Public Secondary Schools, Nairobi County, Kenya
Otieno, Wasonga V.
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Concepts in physics education underpin a high level of technical knowledge and therefore are crucial to success in many technical disciplines. However, misconceptions in elementary physics are quite common among secondary school students. According to the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) report, the candidates’ responses to a large extent showed partial concept development at school level. Therefore, it was important to identify and implement the most effective teaching and learning methods that can reduce instances of physics misconceptions and enhance both short-term and long-term achievement. The purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to determine if combining instructional concept mapping (ICM) and conventional instructional techniques (CIT) would improve students’ achievement in physics, focusing on the topic ‘electric current’. The quasi-experimental design used pre-test and post-test with control and experimental groups. The main independent variables were the instructional concept mapping and conventional instructional techniques while the dependent variable was “students’ achievement in physics”. The samples were four streams of Form Three students from two secondary schools in Nairobi County. The experimental group comprised one stream from the boys’ school and girls’ school randomly selected and was taught physics using a combination of instructional concept mapping and CIT. The control group comprised of similar composition but taught using CIT only. Data was gathered on the students learning achievements in physics, the role of physics teacher and student, and challenges encountered in lessons employing ICM and CIT. Four validated data gathering instruments were used, (i) a classroom observation schedule, (ii) a teacher questionnaire, (iii) a student questionnaire, and (iv) two physics' achievement tests. Content validity was achieved through subject matter expert’s verifications based on the experts’ opinion of experienced physics teachers. Analysis of data was done using both descriptive and inferential statistics. For descriptive statistics, frequency distribution, means and standard deviations was used. The t- test was employed for the inferential statistics, that is, to determine the level of significance between marks scored in achievement tests. It was found that students in the concept mapping group were more participative in class and obtained a statistically significant higher mean gain on the physics test compared to the non-concept mapping class, with p < 0.05. This short-term learning gain is therefore academically significant. The concept maps also provided better ways of summarizing concepts learned during the lesson thereby making it relatively easier for the lessons to be reviewed and key points in the lesson reported or reinforced as is required. It was concluded that generating instructional concept maps is an effective teaching and learning tool for developing concepts of electric current in physics.