Learning about wave optics: the effects of combining external visualizations with extreme case reasoning

A. Vidak, V. Dananić, V. Mešić


In this study we investigated whether combining external visualizations with extreme case reasoning may facilitate developing of conceptual understanding about wave optics. For purposes of answering our research question we conducted a pretest-posttest quasi-experiment which included 179 students from a first year introductory physics course at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. Students who were guided through extreme case reasoning in their wave optics seminars significantly outperformed their peers who received conventional teaching treatment. Findings from our study suggest that combining external visualizations with extreme case reasoning facilitates development of visually rich internal representations which are a good basis for performing mental simulations about wave optics phenomena. In addition, it has been also found that many students use the “closer to the source implicates greater effect” p-prim when reasoning about certain relationships, such as the relationship between fringes’ dimension and slits-screen separation.


wave optics, extreme case reasoning, p-prims, misconceptions

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.31349/RevMexFisE.17.215


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Revista Mexicana de Física E

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