The rapid growth of nanoscience and nanotechnology calls for the inclusion of nano-education in the general educational agenda. Student understanding of a key concept in nanoscience, size and scale, serves as a prerequisite for students' learning of more advanced nanoscience topics.
This project comprises two studies:
- A small-scale pilot qualitative study aimed at exploring the ways students understand the idea of "size and scale."
- A study based on the findings of the pilot further examined students' understanding of size and scale.
In this study we examined 95 students from two different engineering courses, one for engineering majors and the other for non-majors. We administered a set of short-answer questions based on the pilot study results, and interviewed a smaller number of students to elaborate on their responses.
- Study A: Results suggest wide variation in the ways students understand "size and scale." The study identifies a preliminary typology of student conceptions of "size and scale" as it relates to macro and sub-macro phenomena along three key dimensions. In addition, the research identified a critical paradigmatic experience, which appears to play a role in hindering the development of more complex and sophisticated understanding at each level of conception.
- Study B: Results confirm the findings of the pilot study and suggest more conceptual differences within each of the variation dimensions identified previously. Based on these results, we developed a more comprehensive typology of students' understanding of size and scale.
Publications & Presentations
Light, G., Swarat, S., Park, E.J., Drane, D., Tevaarwerk, E., & Mason, T. (2007). Understanding undergraduate students' conceptions of a core nanoscience concept: "Size and scale." Proceedings of the International Conference on Research in Engineering Education, June 23-24, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Park, E. J., Swarat, S., Light, G. (2008). Exploring variations in and developing typology for undergraduate students' conception of "Size and Scale." Presented at the National Association of Research in Science Teaching Annual Conference, Baltimore, MD.
Light, G., Swarat, S., Park, EJ., Drane, D. (2008). Exploring undergraduate students' understanding of size and scale in the context of nanoscience. Engineering Education Research Conference (NSF sponsored), Jan 31-Feb 2,Texas Tech, Lubbock, Texas.
Park, E-J., Swarat, S., Light, G., & Drane, D. (2009). The impact of teaching intervention for "Size and Scale" on conceptual variations. The Proceedings of the Annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, April 17- 21, Garden Grove, CA.