Students' alternative conceptions in introductory college physics courses

Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Teaching Major in Physics

Subject Categories



Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC College of Education


Science Education

Thesis Adviser

Robert C. Roleda

Defense Panel Chair

Melecio Deauna

Defense Panel Member

Ed Van Den Berg
Bee Ching Ong


This study diagnoses students' conception of certain fundamental physics concepts and to assess the persistence of familiar misconceptions at the end of one semester of instruction.Written tests and interviews were conducted to carry out this objective. A total of 287 students from 3 universities, University of San Carlos (n=139), University of Santo Tomas (n=97), and De La Salle University (n=51, enrolled in different study programs within each university were tested at the start and at the end of their introductory college physics course. The test used was the Force Concept Inventory, the instrument of choice in many studies in the USA.The test showed low pretest results only averaging about 27 percent of the maximum possible score yet answers were not random but showed clear patterns of familiar misconceptions. Just like conventional physics lecture in the USA, not much progress was obtained from pretest to posttest. Conceptual learning was limited as conventional lectures are not tailored to the specific conceptual problems of the students. The exception was one class of 32 physics education students. The teaching method used with these students was characterized by high interaction between teacher and students, frequent seatwork and small group discussion in class, and a focus on conceptual problems. This method comes close to what is called interactive engagement in the recent USA literature (Hake, 1998).

Quantitative learning was assessed with the use of the Mechanics Baseline Test. This test, which perfectly compliments the Force Concept Inventory, was only given in the posttest because it focuses on quantitative knowledge that cannot be grasped without formal knowledge of mechanics. Results of the test showed that problem-solving capability is actually enhanced (not sacrificed, as some would believe) when concepts are emphasized.

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

120 numb. leaves


College students; Physics--Study and teaching; Education--Curricula; Teaching methods; Errors

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