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आप यहाँ हैं होम (घर) Research & Development Annual Research Meet Annual Research Meet 2011

Annual Research Meet 2011

  • Second Annual Research Meet --- April 19-21, 2011, HBCSE

The Annual Research Meet (ARM) is an event that focuses on the work of Ph.D. students at HBCSE in Science, Maths and Technology Education (STME). Faculty members participate in it as collaborators and discussants. ARM provides an opportunity for students to share their work, to get feedback on it from faculty and other students, and thus to strengthen their research for eventual publication.

But HBCSE is more than a department where students do their Ph.D., and the ARM is more than an event with a well-defined purpose. ARM is a forum for the integration and synthesis of ideas from a range of disciplines. ARM creates a dialectic between theory and experience from the field, of children and the educational system. ARM's ambience lies somewhere between the formal interactions of epiSTEME and the informal ones of the T+ talks; its discussions draw deeply from sustained research and critiques.

This annual event, along with the biennial epiSTEME and other year-round activities should contribute to building STME as an R&D area at HBCSE and in the country. I thank all students and faculty for their contributions, the first year research scholars, Prajakt and Rafikh, for organisation of the meet, and the second year research scholars for guiding them through it.

Jayashree Ramadas
Dean, HBCSE Faculty



Abstract: We have been developing modules for teaching graphicacy to middle and secondary school. In this paper we present the module that we have developed for teaching basic mechanics and physical geography at the secondary school level by using the Global Positioning System (GPS). The GPS units are presented as a powerful technology enabling students to learn basic ideas of motion, along with concepts of physical geography. We used the GPS units as data loggers to provide us spatial and temporal variables. The raw data thus obtained forms a good source for analysis of physical geography and basic mechanics. We provide some examples of the usage of such GPS units and resulting analysis that we have performed on the data. The use of technology in this way is a form of studio based education (close-to-life collaborative construction contexts). Such a context enables students to construct and analyze their own data, thus providing an opportunity to develop critical graphicacy along with the subject knowledge (physical geography and basic mechanics in this case). We also discuss the impact and significance of such studio based learning for science education.

Thesis advisor: Nagarjuna G.
Discussant: Aniket Sule



  • Science education for students with visual impairments

Abstract: In today’s world of information explosion, lack of knowledge of science and technology prevents active participation in society. This limitation is observed in the case of students with visual impairments (SVI). One of the most evident reasons for this is the fact that science teaching learning is focused mainly through visual channels. Literature indicates that the difficulties faced by SVI include delayed conceptual development and abstract thinking and slow cognitive development. The teaching-learning of science amongst SVI is hampered by the reliance on visual modes of teaching science processes, inaccessibility of equipments and aids for doing and learning science appropriate to the needs of SVI, lack of awareness of effective pedagogies for teaching science to SVI, low expectations from SVI and negative attitudes of teachers and other educating agencies towards SVI.

While SVI have the same range of cognitive abilities as other students, the excessive dependence on the visual mode for teaching causes academic problems for them. It is therefore quite reasonable to explore the variety of experiences that are useful to SVI as-well-as others for learning and doing science. The experiences that have been found effective for science learning for SVI involve use of audio and tactile perceptions. These modes when supplemented with visual modes can make an effective multi-sensory science teaching-learning and doing for inclusive science classrooms. The presentation focuses on some such strategies and aids for SVI as suggested in the literature reviewed.

Guide: Sugra Chunawala
Discussant: Nagarjuna G.



Abstract:Mathematics education researchers like David Carraher, Elizabeth Brenner, Farida Khan, Jean Lave, Terezinha Nunes, and others have suggested that school students do gather everyday mathematical knowledge from their surroundings as well as from their involvement in income generating activities. The studies by these researchers revealed how mathematics arises spontaneously in everyday activities and that situational variables often influence school students’ spontaneous solution procedures. In this paper we give some examples of the nature and extent of knowledge of everyday mathematics present among school going middle-grade children living in a large low-income area of Mumbai city that has a vibrant house-hold based economy. Most children living here are involved in the economic activities from an early age mostly in their family-run small scale manufacturing units like embroidery and zari work, garment stitching, leather work, bag-wallet-purse making, food delivery, etc. Some of the manufactured goods are not only sold in the local markets but also exported to other countries, especially in the Middle East.

The present paper reports on the preliminary part of an ongoing research study. Data were collected through interactions with 25 students of grades five and seven in two public schools in the exploratory phase and 31 students from grade 6 (same schools) in the ongoing phase. Both the schools are located in Dharavi - one of the biggest slum dwellings in Mumbai that has apparent vibrant house-hold based economy. Students’ knowledge of numbers related to their currency-denomination knowledge was prominently visible even though they had difficulty in representing positional values of numbers. Students did operations on multi-digit numbers using the oral mode and not the school-taught methods. Categories were created from the data obtained and implications drawn from them have been discussed.

Refereed papers:

  • Bose, A. & Subramaniam, K. (forthcoming). Exploring school children’s out of school mathematics. Proceedings of the 35th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, Ankara, Turkey: PME.
  • Bose, A. & Subramaniam, K. (forthcoming). Exploring school children’s ‘everyday’ mathematical knowledge. Poster Presentation. Proceedings of the 35th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, Ankara, Turkey: PME.
  • Choudhury, M. & Bose, A. (forthcoming). An Investigation of the Role of Language-negotiations in a Multilingual Mathematics Classroom. ICMI Study 21 Conference. Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • Bose, A. & Choudhury, M. (2010). Language Negotiation in a Multilingual Mathematics Classroom: An Analysis. In L. Sparrow, B. Kissane, & C. Hurst (Eds.), Shaping the future of mathematics education: Proceedings of the 33rd Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Inc., Fremantle, Australia: MERGA. (pp. 93-100). Available at “”&HYPERLINK “”Choudhury.pdf
  • Bose, A. (2009). Mathematical Riddles among the Mushars: Linked to a Historical Tradition? In Tzekaki, M., Kaldrimidou, M. & Sakonidis, H. (Eds.). Proceedings of the 33rd Conference Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, Vol. 5, pp. 439. Thessaloniki, Greece: PME.
Science Communication Journal:
  • Bose, A., Sharma, A., and Mishra, K. K. (forthcoming). Samachar-patron mein surya-grahan: Ek shaikshik evam vishleshanatmak adhyayan. Vigyan Parishad Anusandhan Patrika, Vigyan Parishad: Prayag.
Other papers:
  • Bose, A. (2010). Knowing the World better through Mathematics: Bringing together Critical Mathematics Education and Everyday Mathematics. In the proceedings of the 45th Annual Conference of the Association of Mathematics Teachers of India (AMTI), Calcutta. (pp. 51-62).


Guide: K. Subramaniam
Discussant: Sugra Chunawala



  • Using anology and gesture for mental visualization of DNA structure

Abstract: In this Chapter we explore five beginning undergraduate students’ understanding of the 3- dimensional nature of DNA structure. Through clinical interview-cum-teaching sessions we first recapitulate their background knowledge of basic biology and chemistry prerequisites. We then proceed to a microgenetic study of their understanding of DNA structure, in which we find that initially, all the students interpret their familiar textbook diagrams as a 2-dimensional structures rather than a 2-d representation of the 3-d structures. We then use multiple models to develop their understanding. Based on previous research we conjecture that gesture, analogy, and mental simulation involving changing the viewpoint of the observer, could be used to link together multiple external representations into an integrated internal representation, and hence bring about mental visualization of the 3-d structure. Through a microgenetic time-sequence analysis we identify episodes during which students show ‘positive’ i.e. 2-d to 3-d transitions and “Aha” moments, and trace these learning episodes to use of gesture, and especially, the `ladder analogy’ combined with mental simulation.

Guide: Jayashree Ramadas



  • Understanding students negotiation of socioscientific issues – a critical review of literature

Abstract: This paper will review a recent set of papers that have tried to explore the relationship between nature of science understanding, moral reasoning and decision making on science -Technology -Society issues. The paper will illustrate the methodologies and instruments that have been used to understand the relationship between these constructs. A critical analysis of the assumptions made in these papers regarding the relationship between these constructs is attempted.

Guide: Sugra Chunawala



  • Investigating middle school students’ ideas about design and designers

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to report on an investigation into middle school students’ naïve ideas about and attitudes towards design and designers. The sample for the large scale survey included students from Classes 7 to 9 from a school located in Mumbai. Data analysis was conducted with SPSS software and included coding the quantitative and qualitative data. Results show that middle school students, who had no experience in design and technology education, demonstrated a fair but incomplete understanding of what design is and what designers do. Most students considered design as some artistic rendering process where the designer is engaged in decorating or making things look attractive. Very few students suggested design as planning before making. Students demonstrated a good understanding of the skills associated with designers and showed a positive attitude towards designers and design learning. Insights from the study have implications for design curriculum development at the school level.

In Journals:

  • 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.
In Proceedings:
    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.
  • Ara, F., Natarajan, C. and Chunawala, S. (2010). Naïve 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.
  • Ara, F., Natarajan, C. and Chunawala, S. (2011). Students as users and designers: Product evaluation and redesign by Indian middle school students. In Chunawala, S. & Kharatmal, M. (Eds.). (2011). International Conference to Review Research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education, epiSTEME 4 Conference Proceedings. India: Macmillan.


Guide: Sugra Chunawala
Discussant: K. Subramaniam



  • Children’s understanding of measurement in 2-Dimensions

Abstract: This study aims at probing students’ understanding of the 2D measurement concepts of area and perimeter. A mixed group of ten students from two schools (five from each) were interviewed at the end of their fifth-grade year. The tasks used in this study were designed after taking insights from previous literature on children’s measurement concepts. The study aims at exploring the connection between students’ formal learning of the concepts of area and perimeter and their applications in everyday contexts. Students’ mental representations of these concepts are analysed. The observations in this study give a picture of the confusion faced by students between the two concepts – area and perimeter. It was found that the use of formal procedures and rules by students for the tasks limit them from using their own strategies. The study also looks into students’ intuitive understanding of area by means of unit structuring. How children construct the meaning of these measurement concepts gives an insight about how such concepts arise intuitively in children. And how children intuitively construct the meaning of these concepts has implications for the curriculum.

Guide: K Subramaniam



  • Student difficulties with introductory Physics: Interpretational studies for rotational motion concepts

Abstract: Concepts form the basic building blocks of the subject matter of physics. Interpretation of a concept refers to the cognitive process of identifying or generating the concept in a particular asked situation. Achieving mastery in concept interpretation is an essential pre requisite for furthering understanding of the subject. It is particularly important in case of problem solving as identifying or generating concepts is integral to most problems. Interpretation of a concept is a relatively complex cognitive task especially for the beginner student. Contrary to expectations often majority of students come out of their courses with rather superficial understanding, even of elementary concepts like velocity and acceleration. Introductory students’ difficulties with physics mostly stems from the naive prior knowledge state of the learner and the hitherto unfamiliar form of the knowledge structure of physics. Difficulties which owes their origin to the prevailence of preponderant naive conceptions presumably holds strong only for those concepts whose terminology is shared in everyday life usages. For concepts which have names more technical and remote from daily life usages, difficulties are predominantly rooted in the lack of requisite cognitive skills necessary to handle the formalism of physics. Interpretation studies primarily focus on cognitive processes required to efficiently interpret physics concepts rather than elucidating students’ naive notions and usages. Rotational motion concepts, a relatively less researched area in PER; thus stands as an appropriate domain to be studied under the interpretation studies paradigm. This paper aims to describe in detail what interpretation studies are, where they stand in the greater scheme of research dealing with introductory students’ difficulties with physics concepts. An attempt at synthesis between perspectives is made. Some immediately relevant affective factors are also looked at.

Guide: Nagarjuna G.
Discussant: Jayashree Ramadas



  • Process representation using concept maps

Abstract: In continuing with the development of Refined Concept Mapping (RCM) methodology to represent scientific knowledge, we have furthered our work to represent biological processes, in addition to the biological structure, organization systems, anatomy, taxonomy, etc. Concept mapping is used to graphically represent knowledge using the form of concepts and links to create propositions. Refined Concept Mapping (RCM) is a technique developed over the traditional concept mapping. RCM uses a finite set of well-defined relation names consistently to represent a body of knowledge. In addition to the appropriate usage of relation names, RCM also introduces the distinction between a concept and an attribute, concept and instances. Applying these principles of RCM, the textbook knowledge of biology on the topic of Cell Structure and Function from standards 8, 9, 11 and undergraduate levels have been represented to demonstrate the implication of RCM in science education (Kharatmal & Nagarjuna, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011).

In our review of concept mapping work on representation of a domain, we have come across that it uses the same methodology to represent the static and dynamic forms of knowledge or proposition. We categorize the propositions into at least 2 types – static and dynamic – for our purpose of work. In static form, the proposition expresses a state of affairs for e.g. a bottle is on the table; cell consists of mitochondria. Whereas in the dynamic form, the propositions expresses a process or set of events, or sequence that involves change over time for e.g. it is raining; chromatin undergoes condensation. The latter form we express as processes.

Most of the structural, organizational, anatomical, taxonomic knowledge can be considered to be of static in nature as it mostly deals with a description or a snapshot of a current state of a structure/system. On the contrary all the life processes (physiology, reproduction, cell biology, genetics, ecology etc.) are considered to be of dynamic form as these involves the spatio-temporal dimension and most importantly depicts changes to properties of a structure/system. According to the traditional concept mapping technique, the life processes gets represented as a function of a given structure for e.g. chlorophyll has function photosynthesis; heart has function pumping blood. Considering that any process is nothing but a change to a structure/system, and the change itself involves time, sequence, flow, events, etc. it is very important to also depict all these changes to the properties while representing a process. Although concept mapping can depict the processes as linked to structure it does not deal with depicting the subtleties of the change or process that occurs to a structure. This aspect of recording the change to a structure is being introduced as process representation in the RCM methodology. For representing the biological processes, we use RCM applying the following elements: (i), structure, (ii) attributes (iii) process term, (iv) time, (v) sequence. Using the concept mapping tool, and by incorporating the above characteristics we can create concept maps of processes. This part of the research is informed by the tradition of representing processes in knowledge representation (Dori, 2002, Sowa, 2003) and philosophy (Davidson, 1980, von Wright, 1963). In this presentation, we introduce the RCM methodology to represent biological processes for depicting the change and illustrate with examples of process representation of mitotic cell division applying the RCM methodology.


  • Kharatmal, M. & Nagarjuna G. (2011): An Analysis of Growth of Knowledge Based on Concepts and Predicates—A Preliminary Study. In S. Chunawala & M. Kharatmal (Eds.) Proceedings of epiSTEME 4 — International Conference to Review Research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education, p. 144-149. India: Macmillan.
  • Kharatmal, M. & Nagarjuna G. (2010): Introducing rigor in concept maps. In M. Croitoru, S. Ferre, and D. Lukose (Eds.), Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence: Vol. 6208. International Conference on Conceptual Structures 2010: From Information to Intelligence (p. 199-202). Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag. Doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-14197-3_22
  • Kharatmal, M. (2009): Concept Mapping for Eliciting Students’ Understanding of Science. Indian Educational Review, 45(2), pp.31-43.
  • Kharatmal, M. & Nagarjuna G. (2009): Refined Concept Maps for Science Education: A Feasibility Study. In K. Subramaniam & A. Majumdar (Eds.) epiSTEME 3 Third International Conference on Review of Science, Technology and Mathematics Education. Mumbai: MacMillan Publishers Ltd.
  • Kharatmal, M. & Nagarjuna G. (2008): Exploring the Roots of Rigor: A Proposal of a Methodology for Analyzing the Conceptual Change from a Novice to an Expert  In Canas, A.J., Reiska, P., Ahlberg, M., Novak, J.D. (eds.) Concept Mapping: Connecting Educators. Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Concept Mapping. Tallinn, Estonia & Helsinki, Finland.
  • Kharatmal, M. & Nagarjuna G. (2007): An Alternative Proposal for Eliciting and Assessing Students’ Knowledge Structure. In C. Natarajan & B. Choksi (Eds.) epiSTEME 2 Second International Conference on Review of Science, Technology and Mathematics Education. Mumbai: MacMillan Publishers Ltd.
  • Kharatmal, M. & Nagarjuna G. (2006): A Proposal To Refine Concept Mapping for Effective Science Learning. In Canas, A. J., Novak, J. D. (eds.) Concept Maps: Theory, Methodology, Technology. Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Concept Mapping. San Jose, Costa Rica.
  • Kharatmal, M. & Nagarjuna G. (2004): Understanding Science Through Knowledge Organizers. In J. Ramadas & S. Chunawala (Eds.) epiSTEME 1 First International Conference on Review of Science, Technology and Mathematics Education. Mumbai: HBCSE.


Guide: Nagarjuna G.
Discussant: M. C. Arunan



  • A review of researches on students misconceptions in biology

Abstract: The concepts of biological classification and various biological processes are introduced in the early primary school level and are reinforced in the upper primary school level, secondary school integrated science and in high secondary school biology. Researcher aims at studying the students’ misconceptions about diversity of life and life processes, such as, respiration, circulation, reproduction, excretion, photosynthesis, nutrition, and growth, taught at the secondary school level and to produce remedial material conducting various diagnostics tests. Researcher would like to find out how secondary school student will best learn biological concepts through laboratory activities, animation clips/PPts demonstration, etc.

Review of literature is one of the first steps in research. It is the summary of recognised authorities and of previous research conducted in related areas. It suggests that the researcher is familiar with what is already known and what is still unknown and untested in the area of interest. It also helps to avoid duplication, provides useful hypotheses and helpful suggestions for significant investigations. The literature review serves to provide a theoretical and methodological framework for this study on “A Study of Students’ Misconceptions in Biology at the Secondary School Level and Development of Research Based Remedial Material”. There are three main sections in this literature review. The first section describes the students’ conceptions and uses the terms misconceptions, nature of misconceptions and learning barriers while the second section discusses previous research in students’ understanding of biological concepts, with special emphasis on, photosynthesis, respiration, nutrition, excretion, reproduction, life processes and classification of living world; sources of misconceptions, conceptual change, remedial approaches and tools of identification. The final section discusses several methods of determining misconceptions, present status, need for improvement and genesis of the research. In this paper, an attempt has been made to integrate insights from various sources of research literature pertaining to students conceptions, remedial material and tools used for identification of students misconceptions.

Guide: Veena M. Deshmukh
Discussant: Nagarjuna G.



  • Role of teacher’s knowledge and beliefs in developing teaching practices for student’s understanding

Abstract: While it has been known for years that knowledge and beliefs held by teachers play an important role towards making teaching effective in developing students’ understanding, how they play a role, is a question that needs to be researched. This question gains more importance in the light of the present scenario in India geared towards implementing NCF 2005 which envisions student-centred teaching. Theoretically, different aspects of the content knowledge like pedagogical content knowledge, knowledge of students and content as well as beliefs held by teachers about mathematics and its teaching, have been described as essential for teaching but attempts to look at actual teaching and the role teacher’s content knowledge play in teaching have been few. Such attempts are essential to bridge the theory- practice gap apparent in research in education. In this paper we try to highlight through examples from teaching and interview of a primary school teacher, how content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and beliefs of the teacher afforded and constrained developing students’ understanding while trying to adopt student-centred teaching and participating in a professional development program. The teacher adopted student- centred practices like comparing different answers of students and asking why questions in response to students’ solutions. Implications for addressing this issue in professional development programs will be discussed by elaborating about the efforts to work with the teacher to develop content knowledge through collaboration.

Guide: K. Subramaniam
Discussant: Sugra Chunawala



  • What do students learn from designing and making a playground model?

Abstract: The National Curriculum Framework 2005 has recommended that teaching approaches be consistent with current understanding of constructivist theory of learning. D&T projects within project based learning (PBL) provide authentic contexts for learning and assessment. They integrate an understanding of learners as co-constructors of knowledge. A workshop was conducted over 5 days for students of Class 6 from a neighboring school, where students engaged in designing and making a model of a playground on a plot of available land in the premises. The workshop was planned to include several issues relevant to learning concepts, procedures, and designing. Groups of students, explored the designs of items they would have on the playground, planned the scale model they would make, chose materials for the model, communicated their design and plan to the class for suggestions, made their chosen item and evaluated all items. Continuous self and peer assessment was integrated with the structured tasks. Every group maintained a portfolio of its productions. Analysis of the group portfolios and observers’ notes gave evidences of students’ learning in estimation, measurement and mapping, tool using strategies, social and interpersonal skills, and stability and strength in relation to balance and shape. The paper discusses evidences of learning in students’ productions and presents the basis for the development of assessment rubrics.
> Paper communicated to PATT-25 to be held in London, July 1-5.


  • 1. Ankita Patel, Saurav Shome, Chitra Natarajan (2009). A study of middle school students’ ideas about photosynthesis through multiple interaction modes. In Proceedings and papers of Panel on Ecological and Environmental Science Education in India of II People’s education congress from 5-9 October 2009 at HBCSE, Mumbai. Allahabad; Peoples Council of Education.


Guide: Chitra Natarajan
Discussant: Sugra Chunawala



  • a. A study on teacher’s knowledge of and response to students’ mathematical thinking

Abstract: Recent research in mathematics teacher education emphasizes the significance of teachers’ knowledge of the subject and students for effective teaching and learning. There have been attempts like Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI), where teachers have been provided information about the development of children’s thinking in mathematical concepts portrayed through problem-type frameworks, semantic differences among problems, and hierarchies in students’ strategies. The assumption is that knowledge of students’ thinking in specific mathematical concepts will help teachers create opportunities for problem solving in classrooms. However, the nature of knowledge that teachers already possess about students, their learning, and the content from practice remains unexplored.

The presentation reports findings from a study that attempted to understand the context in which teachers’ knowledge about students’ thinking and content gets reflected. For instance, the teaching-learning practices, classroom norms, teacher goals, etc. The case-study involved understanding the nuances of students’ mathematical thinking and teacher’s responses to it in situ. Classroom observations and task-based interviews served as means to characterize a teacher’s response to students’ mathematical thinking. Teacher’s anticipation of students’ responses on mathematical problems helped garner evidences of teacher’s knowledge of student’s thinking. Teacher’s knowledge and responses were analyzed given the context of the classroom. The study yields analytical and methodological insights which have implications for teacher professional development.

Key words: cognitively-guided instruction, students’ mathematical thinking, task-based interviews, teacher education, teacher knowledge, teacher professional development

Guide: K. Subramaniam

  • b. Exploring the potential of concept mapping in mathematics education

Abstract: The presentation encapsulates the results of an exploratory study on the use of concept mapping as a tool to organise knowledge by mathematics teachers. A sample of 18 mathematics teachers was exposed to concept mapping. Teachers were encouraged to use concept-mapping as a tool for their knowledge organisation and for planning/structuring teaching-learning in classroom. Teachers reflected on the process of making, planning, and using concept-maps in classrooms. The results suggest that teachers found concept mapping useful for the purpose of their knowledge organisation, planning teaching sequences, and for engaging students in learning mathematical concepts. A framework for analysing teachers’ concept maps has been developed in the process. The study indicates the need to utilise concept mapping for mediating content-related discussions among teachers.

Key words: concept mapping, knowledge organisation, mathematical knowledge, teaching sequence

Guide: Nagarjuna G.



  • Developing remedial demonstrations/experiments to deal with students’ misconceptions in heat and thermodynamics.

Abstract: Learning, especially when it involves abstract concepts, is a complex process. In order for learning to occur, the gap between the learner and the concept presented should be “manageable” for the learner to bridge with the instructional experiences that are provided. Misconceptions arise when this “gap” becomes unmanageable. To minimize misconceptions, a conceptual change needs to take place for the student. Posner et. al. tell us that in order to bring about a conceptual change in students with respect to a concept, several conditions are necessary such as dissatisfaction with the existing views, plausibility as well as predictive power of the new concept presented etc. In the light of this “Conceptual Change Model” and on the basis of our earlier studies with students on their misconceptions in heat and thermodynamics I wish to present two experiments. One of the experiments deals with students’ ideas about pressure and the other deals with their ideas about thermal equilibrium. Both these experiments are under developmental stage and quite far from implementation stage. I do not claim that students who will be exposed to the teaching for conceptual change model will immediately abandon their misconceptions in favour of scientific conception. I do believe, however, that exposing students through this model would provide them with a attractive and appealing mental exercise. I also hope that this thinking exercise periodically supplemented by different techniques may bring about a conceptual change.


  • 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., (2007), Students’ Alternative Conceptions on Heat and Thermodynamics, a poster presented at a conference on National Initiative in Science Education.
  • 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.
  • Pathare S. R., Pradhan H. C., (2010), Students’ misconceptions about heat transfer mechanisms and elementary kinetic theory, Physics Education (UK), 45, 629.
  • Pathare S. R., Pradhan H. C., (2011), Students’ understanding of thermal equilibrium, Proceedings of epiSTEME-4 - International conference to review research on science, technology and mathematics education, Macmillan publishers India Pvt. Ltd., 169.


Guide: H. C. Pradhan
Discussant: Aniket Sule



  • Understanding catalysis: a field study

Abstract: The present study is an exploratory study that examines and discusses the treatment of thermodynamics and kinetics in the undergraduate biochemistry text books. The study reveals that the text does not differentiate the thermodynamic and kinetic aspects of catalysis properly leading to misunderstanding. A diagnostic questionnaire is prepared and administered to a sample of research students working in the area of catalysis to see whether they have a coherent and consistent understanding of the topic. Some of the participants are also interviewed and it has been found that their knowledge also does not reflect the differentiation of the thermodynamic and kinetic aspects. One of the aims of the study is also to explore what kinds of simulations can aid in the understanding of catalysis and this has led to the development of a prototypical simulation for bimolecular catalytic reactions.

Guide: Nagarjuna G.

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