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Annual Research Meet 2010

  • First Annual Research Meet --- Feb 11-13, 2010, HBCSE

Every two years, at epiSTEME, we present our research to a national and international audience. It is a time to showcase, to interact with a wide community, to influence thinking on education, to help seed research in science, maths, and technology education (STME) across the country. STME research at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE) is rooted in educational practice, yet it draws freely on the air and sunshine of science, social science, arts and humanities, sythesising to create new ideas, and applying them fruitfully to the practicalities of curriculum and classroom transaction in our schools and colleges. This idealised account perhaps captures what we aim to do. But, we might ask, where does this process begin? How do the first hardy and sustainable seeds of research come into being?

Research thrives on spontaneous exchange and open collaboration. It gets accepted and authenticated as new knowledge, through a process of peer review: a process that calls for participation of communities of researchers and field workers at local, national and global levels. This research meet is a local event focusing on the work of Ph.D. students at HBCSE, in which faculty members participate as collaborators and discussants. The meet aims to provide us with an intense, yet informal and supportive, forum for presentation, discussion, sharing and debate. The organisation of the meet is done entirely by the first year Research Scholars: Anveshna, Jeenath, Shikha and Shraddha, and I thank them for their hard work. While the format of the meet could and should evolve with experience, I hope that this and more such interactions will soon become an integral part of academic life at HBCSE.

Jayashree Ramadas
Dean, HBCSE Faculty

 

 

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  • A NOTE FROM THE CENTRE DIRECTOR

This is the first time we have a research meet of this kind with research and cameo presentations. The purpose of the meet is to know each other's work, to get important feedback on the work and thereby to move on. I am sure that the meet will be a learning experience for all. I hope this meet becomes a regular yearly feature. I extend my best wishes to the meet.

H. C. Pradhan
Centre Director, HBCSE

  • SEEDS OF RESEARCH

Every two years, at epiSTEME, we present our research to a national and international audience. It is a time to showcase, to interact with a wide community, to influence thinking on education, to help seed research in science, maths, and technology education (STME) across the country. STME research at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE) is rooted in educational practice, yet it draws freely on the air and sunshine of science, social science, arts and humanities, sythesising to create new ideas, and applying them fruitfully to the practicalities of curriculum and classroom transaction in our schools and colleges. This idealised account perhaps captures what we aim to do. But, we might ask, where does this process begin? How do the first hardy and sustainable seeds of research come into being?

Research thrives on spontaneous exchange and open collaboration. It gets accepted and authenticated as new knowledge, through a process of peer review: a process that calls for participation of communities of researchers and field workers at local, national and global levels. This research meet is a local event focusing on the work of Ph.D. students at HBCSE, in which faculty members participate as collaborators and discussants. The meet aims to provide us with an intense, yet informal and supportive, forum for presentation, discussion, sharing and debate. The organisation of the meet is done entirely by the first year Research Scholars: Anveshna, Jeenath, Shikha and Shraddha, and I thank them for their hard work. While the format of the meet could and should evolve with experience, I hope that this and more such interactions will soon become an integral part of academic life at HBCSE.

Jayashree Ramadas
Dean, HBCSE Faculty

  • Abstracts of Presentations

1. AMIT DHAKULKARdamitr.jpg

  • Mapping and analysis of textbooks for graphs and related activities using GNOWSYS

Abstract: We present here an attempt to map the syllabus of the NCERT textbooks for topics and activities related to graphs. The sample textbooks that we have considered for the analysis are the NCERT textbooks from Grade 5 to Grade 10, in the subjects of Science, Mathematics and Social Sciences. First we list the occurrences of graphs and related activities in the textbooks. In the second part we provide a qualitative analyis of the data collected in the first part. We then create a conceptual road map for these occurrences. In this we are using the Gnowledge Networking and Organizing System [GNOWSYS], developed in the Gnowledge Lab of HBCSE, to develop a mapping of the graphical practices in the textbook sample. The progress of the same is reported here.

Keywords: textbook analysis, curriculum mapping, graphicacy, graphs, textbooks, concept maps, middle school

PUBLICATIONS

  • Mathematical Literacy and Situated Social Knowledge: Understanding Revolving Credit Situated Social Knowledge Amit Dhakulkar, K. Subramaniam Proceedings of 31st Indian Social Science Congress.
  • Radio emission and the optical isophotal twist of radio-loud ellipticals Gopal-Krishna, Amit R. Dhakulkar, Paul J. Wiita, Samir Dhurde Astronomy and Astrophysics 410 (2003) 139.

Thesis advisor: Nagarjuna G.
Discussant: Chitra Natarajan

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2. ATANU BANDYOPADHYAYatanu.jpg

  • Student’s notions regarding ‘covariance’ of a physical theory

Abstract: A physical theory is said to be covariant with respect to a certain class of transformations when its basic equations retain their ‘form’ under those transformations. It is one of the basic notions encountered in tertiary physics, particularly in the domain of relativity. In this paper we study in some detail how students deal with this notion in different contexts (rotational, Galilean, Lorentz and general covariance). The tool of the study is a diagnostic questionnaire administered on a small sample of senior undergraduates undergoing a course on relativity. The analysis helps us identify a number of points where students are vulnerable to error. The most important of these concerns the non-covariant manifestations of a covariant theory. The study should be useful in the teaching of relativity.

Keywords: covariance, invariance, conservation, lorentz and galilean transformations

PUBLICATIONS

  • “Students' ideas of the meaning of the relativity principle”. Atanu Bandyopadhyay, Eur. J. Phys. 30 No 6 (November 2009) 1239-1256

Thesis advisors: Arvind Kumar & H. C. Pradhan
Discussant: Aniket Sule

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3. DEEPAK S. PARANJAPEdeepak.jpg

  • A review of the theory of teaching

Abstract: The art of teaching is governed by specific laws, which follow from the nature of learning. The students must attend to the lesson, with interest. The knowledge to be taught must be related to the prior lessons, and the experience of the student(s). The students must construct, in their own mind, the knowledge to be learned. The teacher must know, yet prepare afresh the lesson to be taught. The language for communicating meaning must be, using words, common to the teacher and the student(s). The teacher must motivate the students for self-learning, and guide the students’ learning activities. The teaching work must be evaluated and completed by facilitating application and revision of what is learnt. The violation, or ignorance, of these laws is the cause of ineffective education. In this article, we present an analysis of the activities constituting teaching, and a synthesis of a proper understanding of the governing laws, towards a theory of teaching.

Keywords: laws of (science of) teaching, activities of (art of) teaching.

PUBLICATIONS

  • Paranjape, D. S. and Agarkar, S. C. (2006). Teachers as Reflective Practitioners. In "Quality Concerns in Teacher Education". Paper presented at the National Seminar (with the same theme) at CASE (Centre for Advance Study in Education), M.S. University of Baroda, January 2006.
  • Paranjape D. S. and Agarkar S. C. (2009). Integrating Concepts and Skills Through Design of Learning Activities. In Subramaniam, K., & Mazumdar, A. (Eds.), Proceedings of epiSTEME-3: International Conference to Review Research in Science Technology and Mathematics Education, New Delhi, India: Macmillan.

Thesis advisor: S. C. Agarkar
Discussants: Jayashree RamadasRitesh Khunyakari & Abhijeet Bardapurkar

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4. IMRAN KHAN PATHANimran.jpg

  • Probing students’ idea in special relativity through text interpretation

Abstract: This work intended to study students’ understanding of special theory of relativity in their first reading of a text on special relativity. For this purpose, it was decided to make use of students who were participating in a course on the special theory of relativity at the Centre for excellence in basic sciences (CBS). The course had 21 undergraduate students in their third semester, who participated in this study. The task for students was to interpret the selected passages from the first ten chapters of the book “Relativity: The Special and General theory” written by Albert Einstein in 1916. In the preface, Einstein writes, “The present book is intended, as far as possible, to give an exact insight into the theory of relativity....” and hence is an appropriate book for the study.

Keywords: students' ideas, text interpretation, kinematics, special relativity

Thesis advisor: Arvind Kumar & H. C. Pradhan
Discussant: Chitra Natarajan

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5. FARHAT ARAfarhat.jpg

  • Students as users and designers: Product evaluation and redesign by Indian middle school students

Abstract: Students as users and designers: Product evaluation and redesign by Indian middle school students. This paper describes middle school students’ participation in structured activities for evaluating, categorising and redesigning existing products. The objective of the present study was threefold: to explore students’ self-generated criteria to evaluate and compare products, to explore students’ testing strategies while evaluating products and to explore students’ redesigning strategies. Six students of Class 8 worked in three dyads each, on a set of 4 products (4 types of tongs) performing similar functions, to evaluate, compare and redesign them. The entire interaction of each dyad was audio and video-recorded. Textual and graphical data were collected in the form of structured responses and redesign proposals, respectively.

Analysis involved transcribing portions of the videos and correlating the transcriptions with the textual data. Findings suggest that students tested the products for their efficiency and generated criteria predominantly related to their functions and ergonomics. Students categorised products largely based on the perceived similar actions exhibited by the products as well as their appearances. Some inconsistencies were noted in the rating of products based on students’ self generated criteria and researchers’ provided criteria suggesting tentatively the following: 1) the ratings based on the self generated criteria were derived by pitting the products against each other, while the ratings on the researchers’ varied criteria were done for each product independently, 2) students could have linguistic problems in comprehending criteria provided by the researcher or 3) students could have conceptual problems in understanding the criteria provided by the researcher. All students i dentified features in the products that could be redesigned. Students also showed a tendency to propose their redesign ideas around their selected best product design.

The study indicates that middle school students evaluated products based on the performances of the products and generated criteria for these evaluations, which led to their redesign ideas of the products. Finally thepotential pedagogical implications of the study are discussed.

Key words: design and technology education, evaluation criteria, Indian Middle school students, product evaluation, redesigning strategies, testing strategies

PUBLICATIONS

  • Ara, F., Natarajan, C. and Chunawala, S. (2009). A study exploring the strategies utilised by Indian middle-school students in identifying unfamiliar artefacts. Design and Technology Education: An International Journal, 14.3, 47-57.
       http://ojs.lboro.ac.uk/ojs/index.php/DATE/article/viewFile/1275/1240

  • Ara, F. & Natarajan, C. (2007). A study of middle school students’ depictions of routes based on verbal descriptions and cues. In Natarajan, C. & Choksi, B. (Eds), Proceedings of Conference epiSTEME- 2, Mumbai, India, Feb 2007.
  • Ara, F., Chunawala, S. & Natarajan, C. (2009). From analysing to designing artefacts: Studying middle school students’ ideas about design and designers. In Subramaniam, K., & Mazumdar, A. (Eds.), Proceedings of epiSTEME-3: International Conference to Review Research in Science Technology and Mathematics Education, New Delhi, India: Macmillan.
       http://cvs.gnowledge.org/episteme3/pro_pdfs/15-farhat-sc-cn.pdf

  • Ara, F., Natarajan, C. and Chunawala, S. (2010). Na?ve Designers: A study describing Indian middle school students’ creative design solutions to a real world problem. International Conference on ‘’Designing for children’- with focus on ‘play’ and ‘learn’’ at Industrial Design Centre, IIT, Mumbai, Feb 2-6, 2010.
        http://www.designingforchildren.net/papers/farhat-ara-designingforchildren.pdf

Thesis advisor: Sugra Chunawala
Discussant: Jayashree Ramadas

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6. MEENA KHARATMALmeena.jpg

  • Representing cell biology using a fixed set of relation names - a refined concept map approach

Abstract: It is known that school level biology text is mostly of descriptive nature represented using the declarative form of knowledge. Biological knowledge can be characterized into concepts (terms, nouns) and relation names (linking words, verbs). There are hundreds of concepts spread across secondary school and undergraduate levels. Normally, several kinds of relation names are used in the representations. This approach leads to ambiguity in the propositions, and therefore lacks rigor. To overcome this problem, we have proposed a methodology to apply semantically accurate relation names explicitly and consistently to the concepts while mapping a domain.

In a study, we found that all relations found in the textbook could be represented using a specific set of relation names across all the levels (from school to undergraduate). It is generally accepted that conceptsare important for understanding of biology. However, that relation names are equally relevant is usually not so clear to teachers and learners. We state that concepts by themselves do not have any meaning; they attain meaning only when connected or linked with relation names to other concepts.

Therefore, our emphasis is characterizing biological knowledge by focussing on the relation names following the knowledge representation model. The principles applied are to use the relation names such as part-of, includes, surrounded by, located in, has function, example, has attributes, etc. This approach helps to resolve ambiguity in relations when using linking words like can be, have, are, maybe, etc. It also tends to be more rigorous and parsimonious in representation of scientific knowledge. In another study, it has been observed that domain experts not only use appropriate kinds of relation names while describing ideas within the domain but also use them consistently.

To determine what constitutes this fixed set of relation names in biology, we had undertaken to represent the biology textbook of Standards 8, 9 and 11 following the refined concept mapping approach. We know that, as the level of complexity increases from Standard 8, to 11, there would be an increase in the number of concepts, as more and more specific, complex concepts get introduced progressively. But even with this increasing complexity, we could determine a fixed set of relation names that could represent all the complexity. Therefore, we claim that if concepts are a measure of complexity, then relation names provide meaning to this complexity.

The presentation shall explore the refined concept mapping approach in finding the set of relation names with illustrations of concept maps based on textbook content in cell biology of Standards 8, 9 and 11.

Keywords: refined concept maps, concepts, relation names, knowledge representation, cell biology, scientific knowledge

PUBLICATIONS

Thesis advisor: Nagarjuna G.
Discussant: Chitra Natarajan

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7. SHAMIN PADALKARshamin.jpg

  • The model-gesture-diagram link in elementary astronomy education

Abstract: We make a case for using gestures and actions to understand and convey spatial and dynamic properties of systems. We consider a system which is not amenable to direct perception, namely, the Sun-Earth-Moon (SEM) system. We propose a pedagogy which uses gestures (most often in combination with concrete models and diagrams) to facilitate the visualisation and simulation required in elementary astronomy. We analyse these gestures in terms of their purpose in pedagogy: to internalise the natural phenomenon, or the astronomical model, or general characteristics of space. The purpose of the gestures is then to link the real world with the appropriate mental models. In terms of design these pedagogical gestures mediate between concrete models of the SEM system and related spatial configurations, on the one hand, and their corresponding abstract diagrammatic representations on the other: we call it the Model-Gesture-Diagrampedagogical link. Next we summarise some data on students’ gestures observed during collaborative problemsolving which took place in our the pedagogic course of intervention. Implications of these results are drawn for embodiment and multimodality of thought.

PUBLICATIONS

Thesis advisor: Jayashree Ramadas
Discussant: Nagarjuna G.

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8. SHIRISH RAJAN PATHAREshirish.jpg

  • Understanding thermal equilibrium

Abstract: The two pivotal ideas in thermodynamics are heat and temperature. These however are interdependent and their definition draws upon a third concept, that of thermal equilibrium. We report our work on students’ understanding of thermal equilibrium. We found that often the students have not understood the concepts such as a thermodynamic variable and adiabaticity necessary for a discussion of thermal equilibrium. We also noticed that students establish a strong dependence of thermal equilibrium on the size and the material of the objects under study.

PUBLICATIONS

  • Pathare S. R., Pradhan H. C., (2005) Students Alternative Conception in Pressure, Heat and Temperature, Physics Education, Vol.21, No.3 – 4, pp.213 – 218.
  • Pathare S. R., Pradhan H. C., (2005), Students’ Misconceptions about heat transfer mechanisms and elementary kinetic theory, presented at International Conference on Physics Education - 2005, New Delhi.
  • Pathare S. R., Lahane R. D., (2009) Understanding Thermal Equilibrium through Hands on Activities, Proceedings of 6th International Conference on Hands on Science - 2009 at Ahmedabad, Pg.343.

Thesis advisor: H. C. Pradhan
Discussant: Savita Ladage

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9. SINDHU MATHAIsindhu.jpg

  • Visuals and visualisation of human body systems

Abstract: This paper explores the role of diagrams and text in middle school students’ understanding and visualisation of human body systems. We develop a common framework based on structure and function to assess students’ responses across diagram and verbal modes. Visualisation is defined in terms of understanding transformations on structure and relating these with function. We found in Indian students a high dependence on the verbal mode. Students expressed structure as well as function concepts significantly better through text rather than diagrams. Prior knowledge strongly influenced visualisation (as assessed through transformations) and comprehension of text and diagrams including the ability to move flexibly between text and diagrams. We suggest better use of line drawings for integrating structure and function: practices that should equip the learner to “dual-code” text with diagrams, thereby leading to enhanced understanding and expression.

Keywords: Visualization, Biology education, diagrams, human body systems

PUBLICATIONS

Thesis advisor: Jayashree Ramadas
Discussant: K. Subramaniam

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  • CAMEO TALKS
  • 1. Learning science through inquiry - how early can we begin? - Aisha Kawalkar
  • 2. Queries about science education in India - Amit Sharma
  • 3. Everyday mathematics and school mathematics - Arindam Bose
  • 4. Reflections from literature review - Mashood K. K.
  • 5. A study of students' misconceptions in biology at school level and development of research based remedial material - Narendra Deshmukh
  • 6. Misconceptions in relational dynamics: Preliminary comparative study among US and Indian school students - Praveen Pathak
  • 7. Sharing some interesting findings from the course on ‘energy and environment’ - Saurav Shome

  • ANNUAL RESEARCH MEET - 2010 SCHEDULE
  • 11 February, 2010
  • 10.00 am – 10.15 am Welcome Address
  • 10.15 am – 11.15 am P 1: Shirish Rajan Pathare Understanding thermal equilibrium
  • 11.15 am – 11.30 am CT 1: Mashood K.K. Reflections from literature review
  • 11.30 am – 11.45 am Tea Break
  • 11.45 am – 12.45 pm P 2: Shamin Padalkar The model-gesture-diagram link in elementary astronomy education
  • 12.45 pm – 01.00 pm CT 2: Aisha Kawalkar Learning science through inquiry - how early can we begin?
  • 01.00 pm – 02.00 pm Lunch Break
  • 02.00 pm – 03.00 pm P 3: Sindhu Mathai Visuals and visualisation of human body systems
  • 03.00 pm – 03.15 pm CT 3: Amit Sharma Queries about science education in India
  • 03.15 pm – 03.45 pm Tea/Coffee Break
  • 03.45 pm – 04.45 pm P 4: Farhat Ara Students as users and designers: Product evaluation and redesign by Indian middle school students
  • 04.45 pm – 05.00 pm CT 4: N. D. Deshmukh A study of students' misconceptions in biology at school level and development of research based remedial material.
  • 07.00 pm – 09.00 pm Dinner
  • 12 February, 2010
  • 10.00 am – 11.00 am P 5: Amit Dhakulkar Mapping and analysis and of textbooks for graphs and related activities using GNOWSYS
  • 11.00 am – 11.15 am CT 5: Arindam Bose Everyday mathematics and school mathematics
  • 11.15 am – 11.30 am Tea/Coffee Break
  • 11.30 am – 12.30 pm P 6: Atanu Bandyopadhyay Student’s notions regarding ‘covariance’ of a physical theory
  • 12.30 pm – 02.00 pm Lunch Break
  • 02.00 pm – 03.00 pm P 7: Deepak Paranjape A review of the theory of teaching
  • 03.00 pm – 03.15 pm CT 6: Saurav Shome Sharing some interesting findings from the course on ‘energy and environment’
  • 03.15 pm – 03.30 pm Tea/Coffee Break
  • 03.30 pm – 04.30 pm P8: Imran Khan Pathan Probing students’ idea in special relativity through text interpretation
  • 04.30 pm – 04.45 pm CT 7: Praveen Pathak Misconceptions in relational dynamics: Preliminary comparative study among US and Indian school students
  • 04.45 pm – 05.00 pm Tea/Coffee Break
  • 05.00 pm – 06.00 pm P 9: Meena Kharatmal Representing cell biology using a fixed set of relation names - a refined concept map approach
  • 06.00 pm – 07.00 pm Cultural Program
  • 07.00 pm – 09.00 pm Dinner
  • 13 February, 2010
  • Picnic to Nagaon Beach
  • CO-ORDINATION GROUP

Co-ordinators: Anveshna Srivastava, Jeenath Rehaman, Shikha Takker & Shraddha Ghumre
Administrative Support: Smita Burli & Gajanan Mestry
Computer Support: Manoj Nair

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