Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 213–224 | Cite as

Comparing Students’ and Experts’ Understanding of the Content of a Lecture

  • Zdeslav HrepicEmail author
  • Dean A. Zollman
  • N. Sanjay Rebello


In spite of advances in physics pedagogy, the lecture is by far the most widely used format of instruction. We investigated students’ understanding and perceptions of the content delivered during a physics lecture. A group of experts (physics instructors) also participated in the study as a reference for the comparison. During the study, all participants responded to a written conceptual survey on sound propagation. Next, they looked for answers to the survey questions in a videotaped lecture by a nationally known teacher. As they viewed the lecture, they indicated instances, if any, in which the survey questions were answered during the lecture. They also wrote down (and if needed, later explained) the answer, which they perceived was given by the instructor in the video lecture. Students who participated in the study were enrolled in a conceptual physics course and had already covered the topic in class before the study. We discuss and compare students’ and experts’ responses to the survey questions before and after the lecture.


instruction lecture perception physics physics education sound understanding 



This work was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation under grant REC-0087788. We extend many thanks to Dr. Paul Hewitt for his kind participation in this research. His input was invaluable to the analysis of our data.


  1. Cazden C. B. (1988) Clasroom Discourse: The Language of Teaching and Learning. Portsmouth, NH, HainemannGoogle Scholar
  2. Cooper P. J, Simonds C. J. (2003). Communication for the Classroom Teacher. Boston, MA, Allyn and BaconGoogle Scholar
  3. Exley, K. (2004). Giving a Lecture; From Presenting to Teaching (1 ed.): Routledge FalmerGoogle Scholar
  4. Hake, R. R. (2002). Lessons from the physics education reform effort. Conservation Ecology 5(2):28; online at <>Google Scholar
  5. Heritage J. (1984) Garfinkel and Ethnomethodology. Cambridge, UK, Polity PressGoogle Scholar
  6. Hewitt, P. G. (1991). Vibrations and sound II. On Conceptual Physics Alive! [Video tape]: Addison-WesleyGoogle Scholar
  7. Hewitt P. G. (1998). Conceptual Physics 8 Reading, MA, Addison-WesleyGoogle Scholar
  8. Hrepic, Z. (2002). Identifying Students’ Mental Models of Sound Propagation. Unpublished Master’s thesis, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KSGoogle Scholar
  9. Hrepic, Z., Zollman, D., and Rebello, S. (2002). Identifying Students’ Models of Sound Propagation. Paper presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, Boise ID. Published in conference proceedingsGoogle Scholar
  10. Hrepic, Z., Zollman, D., and Rebello, S. (2005). Eliciting and Representing Hybrid Mental Models. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, April 4–7, Dallas, TX. Published in conference proceedingsGoogle Scholar
  11. Kvasz L. (1997). Why don’t they understand us? Science and Education 6:263–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Mazur E. (1997). Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual. Upper Saddle River, NJ, Prentice HallGoogle Scholar
  13. Zollman D. (1996). Millikan lecture 1995: Do they just sit there? Reflections on helping students learn physics. American Journal of Physics, 64:114–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zdeslav Hrepic
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dean A. Zollman
    • 2
  • N. Sanjay Rebello
    • 2
  1. 1.Physics DepartmentFort Hays State UniversityHaysUSA
  2. 2.Physics DepartmentKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

Personalised recommendations