Many physics curricula are opened with the study of kinematics. Consequently, the approach to teaching kinematics significantly influences not only the students' knowledge of kinematics, but also their learning of other areas of physics, as well as their attitudes towards physics instruction, in general. It is theoretically supposed that teaching with external visualizations can be an important factor in developing students' understanding of kinematics.
Materials and methods:
In our study, we aimed to compare the impact of simulations, sequences of printed simulation frames and conventional static diagrams on students' understanding of one-dimensional kinematics. Our student sample consisted of three classes of middle years students (N=63; mostly 15 year-olds). These three classes served as comparison groups in our pre-post quasi-experiment, whereby each of them has been assigned to one of the experimental treatments, i.e. media types.
The results of the ANCOVA showed that students who learned from simulations or from printed sequences of simulation frames significantly outperformed their peers who learned one-dimensional kinematics from conventional static diagrams.
Using simulations or simulation frames not only positively influences students' understanding of kinematics, but it is also a promising approach for closing the gender gap and improving students' attitudes towards kinematics.