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Comparing the development of students' conceptions of pulleys using physical and virtual manipulatives Documents

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Comparing the development of students' conceptions of pulleys using physical and virtual manipulatives 

written by Amy Rouinfar, Adrian M. Madsen, Tram Do Ngoc Hoang, Sadhana Puntambekar, and N. Sanjay Rebello

Research has shown that the concept of force in a pulley is learned equally well by students using physical and virtual manipulatives. We report on a study in which students enrolled in a conceptual physics laboratory spent two weeks investigating pulley systems using either physical or virtual manipulatives. Students were given written materials which guided them through a series of activities which scaffolded the construction of their conceptions of pulleys. Students were required to make predictions and then test these predictions by building and comparing different pulley systems. They were presented with a challenge to design the best pulley system to lift a piano at the end of each week. We compare how the students' conceptions of pulleys develop between the physical and virtual treatments as well as investigate the ways in which they use the manipulatives while completing the scaffolding activities.

Published February 6, 2012
Last Modified April 26, 2012

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