Creative Education
2011. Vol.2, No.3, 244-251
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. DOI:10.4236/ce.2011.23033
Influence of E-Learning Environment Program on Pupils’
Instructional Approaches in Physics Measurement
Lessons in Kenyan Secondary Schools
Joel K. Kiboss
Department of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Management, Egerton University,
Egerton, Kenya.
Received March 17th, 2011; revised April 17th, 2011; accepted April 30th, 2011.
This article explores the pupils’ approaches and development of measurement concepts in an innovation that in-
volved an e-learning environment in school physics conducted in a developing country, namely Kenya. A total
of 118 randomly pupils enrolled in schools that could be visited conveniently in Nakuru district, Kenya were
exposed to an e-learning environment program (ELEP) in physics for a period of six weeks. The ELEP physics
module was developed from a physics course dealing with the concept of measurement. It was chosen because
the majority of teachers viewed it as a topic that is difficult to teach through the regular method. The content was
based on the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE) approved syllabus for science education, science textbooks and
other relevant materials. Part of the investigation was to gain insight on the pupils’ approaches and reactions to
having to learn measurement concepts through ELEP. In order to achieve this, they were interviewed and other
information captured during the physics course to understand what really transpired when they were learning
measurement concepts using the ELEP lessonware. The participants’ classroom behaviors were captured using
the Physics Practical Lessons Analysis System (PPLAS) and Classroom Practical Work Assessment (CPWA). A
selected group of pupils’ were also interviewed to gain insight into their own expressions using the Pupils’ In-
terview Guide (PIG). The results showed effective approaches and reactions that the pupils exposed to the com-
puter-augmented lessons used to learn physics that differed remarkably from those denied this program. For, the
pupils in the experimental condition depended more on their peers and the program while their counterparts in
the traditional class were solely dependent on the teacher. The study concludes that the use of ELEP to support
conventional physics instruction can have substantial advantages over other instructional methods. Moreover, it
proved that the use of ELEP enabled the learners not only to actively participate in the learning process and to
engage fully in the instructional process but to under build a deeper understanding of measurement and proce-
dural skills.
Keywords: Measurement, E-Learning, Environment, Lessonware, Conventional, Understanding, Conceptual,
Measurement skills are the tools and processes that students
utilize to quantify the phenomena around them and thereby
develop the necessary measurement knowledge, attitudes and
skills. As such, they need to develop a good foundation of
measurement skills if they are to carry out their investigations
in physics and other related subjects (Roth & Roychoudhury,
1992; Talsma, 1997; Smith, Carey, & Wiser, 1985, Linder,
1992; Kiboss & Ogunniyi, 2002). The secondary level syllabus
emphasizes the following sub-topics as necessary to build a
good foundation for the concept of measurement in secondary
school physics: 1) estimation and measurement of mass, length,
and time; 2) standard form and significant figures; 3) determi-
nation of area, volume, and density (Kenya Institute of Educa-
tion [KIE], 1992). It is through them that the physics teachers
are expected to assist learners to develop the following meas-
urement knowledge and skills: 1) accurate use of measurement
instruments; 2) selection of appropriate measurement instru-
ment; 3) appropriate use of units; 4) correct application of nota-
tions and symbols; 5) explanation of concepts of area,
volume, and density; 6) estimation of various quantities and
expression of their values in standard form (KIE, 11992).
Pupils in secondary level often begin formal physics educa-
tion with a system of physical conceptions that differ in deeply
systematic ways from those of the physicist (Roth & Roy-
choudhury, 1992; Talsma, 1997; Smith et al., 1985). However,
these alternate conceptions may manifest themselves as useful
commonsense beliefs about the world (Smith et al., 1985, Linder,
1992; Kiboss & Ogunniyi, 2002). But these alternate concep-
tions are not addressed in introductory physics textbooks or by
conventional physics classroom instruction (Roth & Roychoud-
hury, 1992; Talsma, 1997; Smith et al., 1985; Linder, 1992).
Given the traditional mode of teaching that is common in most
third world science classrooms (Kiboss, 2000), the likelihood
of pupils departing from beginning physics without an adequate
understanding of the necessary physics concepts presented is
high. Consequently, there is a high chance that their conceptual
understanding about the physical phenomena may eventually be
left unchanged. It is therefore necessary to facilitate pupils to
interactively develop physics concepts for themselves by em-
J. K. KIBOSS 245
ploying highly interactive programs such as e-learning (Andre
& Veldhuis, 1991; Schar & Kruefler, 2000; Park & Hopkins,
1993; Mayer & Moreno, 2003).
The underlying assumption for the incorporation of e-learn-
ing in science instruction is that the use of the computer might
transform the science teaching-learning discourse from the usual
dull teacher-dominated activity of dishing out factual knowl-
edge to that of an interactive learner-centred process that nur-
tures confidence, initiative and enhancement of cognitive, psy-
chomotor and affective behaviours (Schar & Kruefler, 2000;
Park & Hopkins, 1993; Mayer & Moreno, 200). Moreover e-
learning environments are capable of serving various functions
in the science classroom (Schar & Kruefler, 2000; Hudson, 1999)
which include serving as:
1) An interactive teaching tool to perform and direct such in-
structional approaches e.g. computer simulations, tutorials, drill
and practice, testing and games;
2) A laboratory tool for collecting data;
3) An information manager with databases;
4) An interactive teaching tool which the science teachers
may use to complement and enhance science objectives in the
science classroom.
From the foregoing, there are reasons to claim that the use of
e-learning programs may contribute to the development of stu-
dents understanding of science concepts (Smith et al., 1985;
Kiboss, 2000; Park & Hopkins, 1993; Mayer & Moreno, 2003).
The Problem
As alluded to above, great expectations have been raised
about the impact of e-learning intervention on physics educa-
tion especially as an aid in making the reasoning of children
more explicit and in visualizing the consequences of their
thinking in individual or small group settings (Kiboss, 2000;
Andre & Veldhuis, 1991; Hudson, 1999; BenJacob, Levin, &
BenJacob, 2000). While graphical animations in e-learning
environments have proved effective in explicitly representing
highly abstract and/or dynamic concepts in physical science
(Kiboss, 2000; Park & Hopkins, 1993; Wekesa, Kiboss, & Ndi-
rangu, 2006), most of these interventions have not investigated
the impact or otherwise of e-learning environments on pupils’
approaches to the development of practical skills and other
classroom interactions in secondary physics. Therefore, this
study is an effort to contribute in this regard by developing an
electronic learning environment program (ELEP) based on
measurement in school physics and investigating its influence
on students’ conceptual understanding and procedural skills.
Research Objectives
The main objective of the study was to investigate the influ-
ence of ELEP on students’ conceptual and procedural under-
stand of measurement in school physics. This is a physics
foundation course which is compulsory for all beginning sec-
ondary education students in Kenya. In order to achieve this,
the following specific objectives guided the study:
1) To establish the influence of ELEP on students’ concep-
tual understanding of measurement and procedural skills in
school physics.
2) To explore what actually transpired during the classroom
discourse that may contribute to the effectiveness of the ELEP
on students’ understanding of measurement concepts.
Initially a total of 120 first year secondary school students
from three secondary schools situated along the Nakuru-Mari-
gat and Njoro-Rongai roads served as the participants of the
present study. These students were randomly selected from a
population of 3000 students (aged between 12- and 17-years-
old) who had qualified to enroll in secondary education in Na-
kuru district, Kenya. All primary school students in Kenya
qualify by successfully passing a public examination—the
Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE)—at the end of
their primary school year (Standard 8). The participants (65
males and 53 females) were randomly selected from three
classrooms situated in three schools easily accessible to the
Nakuru-Marigat and Njoro-Rongai roads. This study adhered to
the Kenyan secondary school requirement of 40 students per
class stream (i.e., 22 males and 18 females). However, only 118
subjects (i.e., E1 = 22 males and 18 females while C and E2
each had 22 males and 17 females) completed the study.
Research Design
The experimental design chosen for the present study is the
Solomon-Three group design that is considered rigorous enough
for experimental and quasi-experimental studies (Ogunniyi,
1992). The Solomon-Three group design is robust in eliminating
variations that might arise due to differences of experiences and
thus compromise the internal validity of the study (Ogunniyi,
1992). It involves a random assignment of subjects to the three
groups with two groups being administered the pre-test and one
not. One pre-tested group and another that is denied the pre-test
are normally exposed to the experimental treatment. The three
groups are all post-tested after the experimental treatment is
The instruction materials used in the study were developed
from a physics course dealing with the concept of measurement.
The content of the course was based on the KIE approved syl-
labus for science education, teacher’s guide, students’ textbook
and other relevant materials. The ELEP lessons employed dy-
namic video displays (DVD) of verbal and non-verbal informa-
tion, which were presented on the computer. These were de-
veloped using the QUEST authoring system. QUEST is an inte-
grated set of programs useful for creating, presenting and man-
aging computer-based training (CBT) courseware. It is a two-
level authoring system that has both interactive authoring capa-
bility and an authoring language. Its interactive authoring pro-
gram called AUTHOR uses dialogue boxes or prompt windows
to interface with the user thus making it easy to learn and use.
The ELEP lesson materials developed consisted of twelve
basic lessons covering six measurement concepts (length, area,
volume, mass, density and time). During the initial stages it
underwent two major reviews. First, three computer-based edu-
cation (CBE) experts knowledgeable in science education re-
viewed it. The purpose of this was to assess the overall quality
of the first version in terms of language and grammar, surface
features, questions and menus. The suggestions for modifica-
tion were considered and were deemed appropriate. Second, the
modified version was again subjected to another review by six
educational technology and science education experts (two
educational technology lecturers, two secondary science de-
partment heads and two secondary school physics teachers)
knowledgeable in science education at the secondary level in
Kenya. This was meant to solicit comments and feedback on
the quality of the ELEP before it was finally piloted on a group
of secondary school student-helpers who did not participate in
the actual study.
The ELEP Physics lessons began with the presentation of the
topic of the lesson. The computer screen would display the
topic of the lesson and the appropriate key sign. The computer
displayed the appropriate key sign to direct or guide the sub-
jects’ leader on the correct function key to press in order to let
the ELEP relay the statements unto the screen that explained
the lesson content text and the animated graphic pictures. The
teacher was present throughout the lesson to offer guidance and
help as need arose. In other words, the teacher played the role
of a facilitator.
The conduct of the lessons was interactive in that the subjects
were required to read and follow the content, respond to ques-
tions by computing the answers using solar-powered pocket
calculators and typing the answer at the keyboard. Also, there
were other practical activities adjunct to learning where at some
point, the subjects were required to apply the knowledge re-
ceived by physically finding measurements of certain objects in
and out of the classroom/laboratory i.e., they were expected to
manipulate the measuring instruments.
During the implementation of ELEP, the present researcher
and his two research assistants observed all the lessons (N = 12)
to insure that the teacher implemented the given package. Also,
the teacher kept a log to indicate the areas he covered during
the lesson(s).
Two instruments namely 1) the Classroom Practical Work
Assessment (CPWA) and 2) the Physics Practical Lesson Analy-
sis System (PPLAS) were used to assess the laboratory class-
room behaviours and practical activities. They were borrowed
from the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE) syllabus KIE
(1992) and modified to suit the research needs of this study.
The CPWA contained 5 items related to the practical measure-
ment skills emphasized in secondary physics education while
the PPLAS consisted of 10 items related to the process skills
also emphasized by the science education syllabus. These in-
struments were reviewed by five experts and tried on three
practical lessons. The observer’s ratings were analyzed using
Spearman rank correlation which yielded average inter-rater
reliability coefficient of 0.74 for CPWA and 0.82 for PPLAS
which demonstrate satisfactory measures of reliability.
The necessary information was collected from the participat-
ing teacher and a selected group of pupils during and after the
physics lesson. The interview period lasted approximately 20
minutes. The pupils were interviewed to gain insight into their
participation in the teaching and learning of the physics course
on the concept of measurement. To eliminate researcher and
research assistants’ biases, the information from the interviews
were reviewed by the researcher and copies given back to the
teacher or pupils concerned to confirm the data. This was done
in order to increase the investigator’s confidence in the reliabil-
ity and validity of the results (Miles & Huberman, 1984; Patton,
Formal semi-structured interviews were undertaken to collect
data from the participating teacher regarding his perception of
the benefits of ELE to pupils’ development of measurement
skills in secondary physics. Additional information was also
gathered through further probing as deemed necessary by the
researcher. Similarly, the information generated from these
probings were reviewed by the researcher and returned to the
teacher to verify and confirm the accuracy and validity of the
data (Kiboss, 2000; Miles & Huberman, 1984; Wragg, 2000).
The teacher and his pupils were interviewed on site, gener-
ally after the lesson and whenever possible, during the lesson.
Throughout the interview sessions, the investigator and re-
search assistants were able to collect sufficient descriptive de-
tails on how the new method influenced the pupils’ approaches
on science concepts and specifically the development of meas-
urement skills.
The Conduct of the Actual Study
Before the ELEP was implemented, the subjects and the
teachers in the experimental treatments (E1 and E2) were in-
structed for one week on how the basic computer operational
skills to enable them easy access and/or navigation of the ELEP
courseware. On week was deemed sufficient to familiarize
those in the experimental groups with the ELEP lessonware
(Kiboss, 2000). This was essential because not all the teachers
and students in the research schools were computer literate.
The ELEP Physics module developed for this study consisted
of six measurement concepts taught over a period of four weeks
as recommended by the KIE (1992) syllabus. The basic lessons
contained instruction on length, area, volume, mass, density,
and time. Prior to the physics instruction, the teacher and learn-
ers assembled in the laboratory and with the assistance of the
teacher organized themselves into groups. The teacher had been
instructed to familiarize and guide the pupils on the basic op-
eration skills (e.g. how to turn on the computer and proceed in
an ELEP lesson) before exposing them to the physics lesson.
The teacher and the learners were issued with a course manual,
which served as a reference guide.
Access into the ELEP lessonware was gained by clicking
aphysx sign on the computer screen which takes them to the
main menu. The computer then began the ELEP lesson with the
presentation of the course title page, objectives and directions
and a MENU from which the course sub-topic could be chosen.
The lesson began with the presentation of the topic, with verbal
(textual) or nonverbal (graphic pictorial) information relayed
unto the computer screen. In each lesson, the learners were
presented with a task, which required them to respond either
directly via the keyboard or through the manipulation of the
measurement instruments.
Two lesson variation methods namely 1) the ELEP and 2)
the regular mode were used. In the ELEP mode, the teacher’s
role was to facilitate learning (i.e., organize and supervise stu-
dents’ learning). Under this mode, the students received all
their instruction on measurement through ELEP. All the in-
struction content and tasks were conducted within a natural
J. K. KIBOSS 247
laboratory classroom setting. In the regular mode, the teacher
gave instruction using the conventional or usual teaching me-
thods suggested by the KIE syllabus to cover the same content
on measurement as those in the ELEP classrooms.
Results and Discussion
The main feature of the present study was to explore the
ways in which the new innovation –ELEP helped the students
in achieving conceptual understanding of measurement and
procedural skills. In other words, it sought to gain insight into
the instructional approaches responsible for the students’ de-
velopment of the necessary understanding of measurement and
procedural skills (Roth & Roychoudhury, 1992; Smith et al.,
1985; Linder, 1992; Kiboss, 2000; Duggan & Gott, 1995; White
& Gunstone, 1992). The proceeding sections contains presenta-
tions of what was observed from both the students and the
teachers regarding the way the students’ learning was enhanced
by the use of e-learning in school physics.
Pupils’ Interaction during the Physics Classroom
Practical Work
Classroom instructional approaches during physics practical
work were coded using the Classroom Practical Work Assess-
ment (CPWA) and the Physics Practical Lesson Analysis Sys-
tem (PPLAS). The results for the CPWA and PPLAS are ana-
lyzed and reported in Tables 1 and 2 respectively and elabo-
rated further in the paragraphs that follow.
An examination of Table 1 indicates high percentages of
mean ratings on laboratory classroom behaviours and skills in
favour of the subjects in the experimental group (E1 and E2).
These data seem to imply that during classroom practical tasks,
the subjects in the ELEP treatment displayed better measure-
ment process skills than their counterparts in the true control
group. For instance, the subjects in the experimental conditions
had better skills in the accurate use of measuring instruments
(18.2% and 17.8% for the E1 and the E2 groups respectively) as
compared to (7.4%) portrayed by their counterparts in the true
control group (C). Similarly, their application of correct meth-
ods of measurement scores (22.4% for the E group and 22.8%
for the E2 group) were the same but twice as higher than that
(11.6%) of the C group. Their use of appropriate units of meas-
urement scores (13.8%) and (14.4%) for the E1 and C2 groups
respectively was higher than that (5.7%) of the control group
(C). A similar observation was also evident in their application
of correct notations and symbols where the E1 group score
(15.6%) and the E2 score (17.2%) were almost equal but much
higher than that of (6.4%) of the C group. The scores of the
subjects on estimation and expression of values of various
quantities in standard form were similar for E1 (14.9%) and C2
(14.1%) but much lower (7.2%) in the case of the true control
group. The scores portrayed a clear picture that the learners in
the experimental conditions performed equally well as com-
pared to those in the controlled condition. This is a clear indica-
tion that the use of ELEP had similar effect on the experimental
subjects and their performance can be attributed to use of the
ELE program.
Considering that this is true for many schools in Kenya, it is
not surprising then that earlier studies by KIE (1999), Ndirangu
(2000), Okere (1988), Ndirangu, Kathuri and Mungai (2003)
and Wekesa (2003) which reported low achievement by pupils
in process and manipulative skills may be arrested by applying
the modern electronic media programs. This is supported by the
findings presented above which proved that the use of the
ELEP was modestly effective in enhancing the pupils' acquisi-
tion of measurement and/or skills. A similar pattern is also
observable from the data presented in Table 2 because the pu-
pils in the regular tend to do tasks that require recall or confir-
mation of facts and/or scientific concepts.
The data presented in Table 2 shows the students mean rat-
ings score on their practical skills. Again, a similar pattern as
the one observed in Table 1 where the subjects in the experi-
mental treatments recorded higher but similar scores as com-
Table 1.
Percentage of mean ratings of pupils practical wo rk.
1 C E2
1. Uses measuring instruments accurately
2. Shows correct methods of measurement
3. Uses appropriate units
4. Applies correct notations and symbols
5. Estimates various quantities and expresses their values in standard form
Table 2.
Percentage of mean ratings of pupils practical skills.
1 C E2
1. Acquiring, recalling or confirming facts
2. Identifying problems
3. Solving problems
4. Identifying or describing apparatus
5 Describing experimental procedures
6. Designing, carrying out experiments
7. Describing or recording data
8. Interpreting observed or recorded data
9. Inferring from observed or recorded data
pared to the lower scores of those in the traditional laboratory
classroom. A close observation of the results indicates that
students in the true control group tend to rely more on informa-
tion mostly supplied to them by their teacher. But in contrast,
their counterparts in the e-learning laboratory classroom seem
to engage more in tasks that require manipulative and process
skills. The findings give a clear implication that the use of the
ELEP not only engaged the learners actively in the develop-
ment of practical skills but also removed them away for the
tendency to rely on the teacher as is the case of those in the
control condition. Moreover, the findings seem to corroborate
earlier studies which revealed that the use of electronic learning
environment programs improves students’ cognitive and psy-
chomotor skills as well as their laboratory classroom instruc-
tional approaches (Kiboss, 2000; Wekesa, 2003; Kiboss &
Ogunniyi, 2005).
Effects of ELEP on the Pupils’ Content Knowledge
and Lesson Ownership
Part of the objective of this study was to explore what actu-
ally transpired during the classroom discourse that may con-
tribute to the effectiveness of the ELEP program on students’
understanding of measurement concepts. The findings reported
above are supported by the observed episodes of classroom
instructional approaches. The anecdotes reported in this section
provide informed descriptions of episodes from class tasks that
further give insights of how far the subjects captured the es-
sence of group’s approaches to learning. An interview emanat-
ing from an observation of what transpired in this 40-minute
lesson seem to show a hive of activity, with the pupils appear-
ing to be engaged in interactive and purposeful endeavours
which might have contributed to their conceptual understanding
of measurement. It is an example of a probe that was aimed at
gaining insight into the students’ development of content
knowledge and conceptual understanding.
Excerpt 1
Researcher: What would happen if the figures were reversed
and how would you express it in standard form?
Class: [The group seemed puzzled by the question. But a girl
in the group quickly looked at the example on the ELEP pro-
gram and said].
Issah: I think I know how to do it. [Explains] If in the normal
way we count the decimal place to the left, then here, I think
the opposite case applies.
Chepkurui: I see what you mean. We count to the right.
Issah: Yes.
Kosi: But how do you express the answer?
Issah: By placing a minus sign before the power of ten like
this [she wrote on her book: 1.498].
Kosi: A ah... Now I understand what the computer meant
when it said `if the figures begin with a zero point something,
then the integer is expressed as negative power of ten’.
Kibet: Sir... Is that the right way to do it sir?
Researcher: What do you think?
Kibet: I dunno.
Dan: I think they (girls) are right sir because the opposite of
plus is minus and it (method) is what is stated in our textbook
(Interview Notes, School B: E2 Group).
This incident illustrates a contextual development of the stu-
dents’ content knowledge in measurement and the subsequent
student ownership of the lesson content (self-actualized under-
standing of both measurement knowledge and skill). For exam-
ple the following pupils’ remarks are indicative of this:
“A ah! I now understand what the computer mean when it
said if figures begin with a zero point something, then the inte-
ger is expressed as negative power of ten” and “I think they
[girls] are right sir because the opposite of plus is minus and it
[method] is what is stated in our textbook”.
It is apparent from the foregoing that the ELEP was not
solely responsible for enhancing the students’ procedural know-
ledge. A close examination of the classroom discourse anecdote
cited in Excerpt 1 shows that the human-machine interactions
were complemented by the student-student verbal and non-
verbal interactions (Kiboss, 2000). As can be seen from the
same anecdotes, the pupils did not just sit at the computer and
absorbed the information relayed by the ELEP unto the screen.
Rather they engaged themselves in serious intellectual debates
and negotiations of meaning, which eventually resulted in their
self-actualization. This is perhaps a further evidence that the
ELEP per se does not in itself influence learning but rather it is
the correlation of variables e.g. the teacher, pupils, the envi-
ronment, instructional material etc., working together to bring
about the desired learning.
Excerpt 2
Researcher: Why are you adding the two measurements?
Martha: Cos when I measured I got the width as 5 m and the
length as 12 m. I think you take the length and the width and
add them together.
Researcher: Are you sure about that?
Martha: I dunno... Should I times them. No. I think I should
multiply them to get area because when you add them you get
the perimeter (Student Interview School A: C Group).
The information shown in Excerpt 2 indicates that some pu-
pils in regular physics classroom misunderstand measurement
concepts (Talsma, 1997; Smith et al., 1985). For instance, the
interviewee’s response shows that she confuses area and pe-
rimeter concepts. Perhaps this problem is related to the early
courses at the primary school level (KIE, 1999). In Kenya,
pupils learn about area in both mathematics and integrated sci-
ence. However, perimeter is taught in mathematics only. It is
most probable that this particular student has not realized that
the additive rule is only used to calculate perimeter in mathe-
matics and that perimeter and area are totally different concepts
(Kiboss & Ogunniyi, 2002; KIE, 1999).
Several IT authors and curriculum developers (Talsma, 1997;
Kiboss & Ogunniyi, 2002) allude that quantitative concepts and
skills in physics cannot be easily realized in classrooms that
employ expository teaching because conceptual understanding
of measurement is both time-related and task-oriented and tend
to emerge from the process of quantifying physical phenomena
(Kiboss, 2000; Kiboss, 2010). It is critically important therefore
for teachers during the lesson process to inculcate adequate
content knowledge so that the learners may develop the neces-
sary measurement content knowledge to guide them to quantify
the phenomena around them. Moreover, it is also necessary to
ensure that the pupils develop a clear knowledge of “when to
measure, what to measure and how to do so” (Roth & Roy-
choudhury, 1992; Kiboss & Ogunniyi, 2002).
J. K. KIBOSS 249
Students’ Approaches and Experiences with ELEP in
the Physics Laboratory Classroom
One of the unique qualities of ELEP is that the teacher or-
ganized the lessons such that they allowed the students some
freedom to interact with one another and to work cooperatively.
The underlying assumption of ELEP was knowledge utilization.
Its emphasis was not just to engage them in obedient execution
of the instructions for a canned product. Rather, the students
were required to apply what they had learnt in practical situa-
tions. A good example is shown by episodes presented below.
Excerpt 3
Kim: This is interesting. Peter look... are you watching? Did
you see how it lowered the ruler down and placed it on top of
the block of wood?
Peter: Yeah. It placed the zero mark right against the end of
the block of wood... I mean here (pointing at the example on
the screen).
Owuor: Look it lowered the ruler like this (demonstrating
with his 30-cm ruler) and made it to lie flat on top of the
wooden block like so (laying his ruler flat on the table).
Excerpt 4
In this 40-minute lesson, the students payed raft attention to
the stimulus conditions as though they did not want to miss
anything. This investigator was struck by the fact that the stu-
dents were enthralled with the lesson presentation and attended
to the computer screen and interactively processed the informa-
tion i.e., acting and reacting or responding by pressing a key or
typing the answer on the keyboard. Although this was not timed,
it was not long before one student moved aside to let another
take the turn to operate the keyboard.
All across the room, several students were mimicking the
animated illustration they watched on the screen. The teacher
seemed to admire what was going on. He never interrupted
them but moved closer to a group in the back of the class and
joined them to discuss about the units on the ruler and how to
read them correctly (Lesson Observation Notes, School B:
Group E2).
From the foregoing, it seems that measurement learning in
the ELEP classes was mediated by several other factors in addi-
tion to the new program. For instance: 1) the students’ atten-
tiveness to the stimulus attention; 2) their active and reactive
responding via the keyboard; 3) the mimicking of graphic illus-
tration to facilitate their comprehension; 4) their cooperation
which allowed the smooth running of the program; 5) their
verbal communication and negotiation of meanings and 6) the
teacher’s facilitative role that allowed free interactions in the
classroom. All these factors certainly played some significant
role in the enhancement of the students’ ability to demonstrate
factual, conceptual and procedural knowledge of measurement
skills normally associated with secondary level physics cur-
Pupils’ Views about How the ELEP Improved Their
Manipulative and Practical Skills
During the course of the study, the pupils were interviewed
to get the impact of their real experience with the lesson mate-
rial and how they influence their understanding of measurement
concepts. Excerpts 5-7 illustrate the pupils’ own thoughts and
explanations about how the ELE enhanced their conceptual
understanding of measurement.
Excerpt 5
Issah: Since I learnt using the computer I feel like I have
learnt more about measurement than when I first started the
Researcher: Can you explain that?
Issah: Yes sir. Before, I did not know about how to deter-
mine the volume of an irregular object like a rough stone. I
thought all volumes are determined by measuring length, breath
and height and then apply the formula l × b × h. But in this
course, I learnt that the volume of an irregularly shaped object
can be measured or determined by using a measuring cylinder
or an Eureka can and water. The examples shown by the com-
puter were easy to comprehend. For example when using an
eureka can like the one we made from old cans. We also used
them to measure volumes of objects. But this method is a little
bit different from the one you directly use the measuring cylin-
der. It is different because you don’t have to take the first read-
ing. No. All you must do is simply fill the eureka can with wa-
ter to the sprout and then place a calibrated beaker below the
sprout so that the water don’t drop or pour on the table. The
only thing which is like that of a measuring cylinder is tying the
object with a string before you lower it gently into the can
(Student Interview School B: E2 Group).
Excerpt 6
Ahmed: Yes because I had a chance to make an eureka can
with my friends using old tins and straws. After we made them
we measured the volume of an irregularly shaped object. This
was very exciting and fun to see the water flow from our own
eureka can into the beaker we calibrated using the ruler and
markers when the object was inserted. It was exciting too to
find that the volume of the object we got using our apparatus
was the same with that of the calibrated laboratory beaker. The
computer made it very easy for me to learn all these (Student
Interview School C: E1 Group).
Excerpt 7
Nduta: The computer made calculation very easy for me. I
liked the way it explained to me about how to solve problems
in measurement. All I needed to do was just press or type
something at the keyboard... it was fun to see it demonstrating
about how to measure or read the scale and so on.
Lily: When I joined this course, I did not know anything
about standard form or s.f. but after learning from the computer,
I can now measure things, calculate the answer and even write
very large or small numbers in standard form. The computer
was very clear for me and they helped me learn alot about how
to measure and record measurements of objects more accu-
Issah: As I typed the answer and press enter... it responded
back to me because the answer was lining with mine. Because
my answer was right I knew my calculation was also right. I
also understood more about measurement because when I actu-
ally measured and calculated the density of objects, my answers
were always right because I followed the method I learnt from
the computer. I could not have gotten them right had it not been
for the ease of the computer lessons (Group Interview, School
C: E1 Group).
An inspection of the information depicted in Excerpts 5 to 7
seem to show that the pupils in the ELEP treatment groups
engaged themselves in practical activities that helped them to
develop deeper understanding of measurement skills. It is in-
teresting to note from these examples clearly shows that the
pupils attributed their success of learning measurement skills to
the use of ELEP. This is particularly so because the picture
emerging from what they said about what transpired during
their classroom discourse indicates that during the lesson proc-
esses, they were involved in tasks that engaged them in active
participation and negotiation of meanings (Kiboss, 2010; Ki-
boss & Ogunniyi, 2003). Although the ELEP may not appear to
be totally responsible in the enhancement of the pupils’ meas-
urement skills, it nonetheless facilitated the learning process.
Teacher’s Views about How ELEP Improved His
Pupils’ Manipulative and Practical Skills
In this study, comments from the teacher were also consid-
ered to gain more insight of their views regarding the use of the
ELEP. From the teacher’s verbatim depicted in Excerpt 8, there
appears to be a general feeling that the pupils in the treatment
groups (E1 and E2) exhibited better measurement skills than
there counterparts in the true control group (C). This was evi-
dent in an interview in which the teacher was asked to share his
feeling regarding the development of the pupils’ understanding
of measurement skills.
Excerpt 8
Teacher: The concept of measurement is a topic that is diffi-
cult to teach because the pupils must learn and practice with the
measurement tools in the classroom or labs and we don’t al-
ways have enough laboratory apparatus for every student. But
for me, the ELE has been a good supplement. I have also noted
that my relationship with the pupils and among themselves has
improved tremendously. I must admit that the ELE programme
has been very helpful and already, I may reconsider changing
my current teaching practice. For I feel that if I must maintain
their interest and motivation to learn physics, then I need to
keep up with this new method (Teacher Interview, School C: E1
Excerpt 9
Teacher: I feel that the computer lessons help the pupils de-
velop a deeper understanding of measurement procedures be-
cause they could make use of the measurement tools and work
out problems with minimal difficulty right from the time they
are issued with the apparatuses. I noted that whenever they
encounter difficulties, they sort of make reference to the ELE
information. I know that most of them had not really seen a pair
of callipers before this course. No. But after learning about
them from the computer they were able to use them to measure
inner and outer diameters of spherical objects (Teacher Inter-
view, School B: E2).
A further analysis of these episodes indicates that there
seems to be a strong relationship between the nature of a con-
ducive classroom environment and the acquisition of the nec-
essary measurement skills. The extent of active student partici-
pation in the learning process and application of new knowl-
edge to practical situations observed in the ELE classes is a
theme that emerged in support of the ELEP’s strength to im-
prove pupils’ conceptual and procedural understanding of
measurement. The example illustrated in Excerpt 9 echoes the
teacher’s own expressions about how the use of ELEP im-
proved both the pupils’ understanding of measurement concepts
and skills, and other problem solving and manipulative skills
e.g. calculation and computer operational skills. This is in line
with earlier studies that supported the notion that the use of
modern instructional media such as e-learning has the potential
of enhancing students; understanding in science (Kiboss &
Ogunniyi, 2003; Kiboss, 2000; Andre & Veldhuis, 2000; Park
& Hopkins, 1993; Ndirangu et al., 2003; Kiboss, 2010).
The findings of this study lend support to the general hy-
pothesis that ELEP positively influenced the development of
the learners’ conceptual and procedural understanding of meas-
urement in school physics. For on the basis of the data and the
comments from both the teacher and the learners, it appears that
the ELEP did enhance the pupils’ cognitive and manipulative
skills. However, it should not be assumed that the ELEP as a
medium was solely responsible for the achievement observed in
the study. Rather, a number of other mediating variables con-
stituting the classroom environment (e.g. peer interaction and
active participation) in the course also played a part (Kiboss,
2000; Schar & Kruefler, 2000; Mayer & Moreno, 2003; Zum-
bach, 2006; Hudson, 1999; Kiboss, 2010).
Considering the results of the descriptive data and the quali-
tative anecdotes cited, there is considerable evidence to suggest
that the ELEP was relatively effective in influencing the pupils’
conceptual and procedural understanding of measurement. But
what was the main variable(s) driving this success? Looking at
the qualitative evidence, it appears that the use of ELEP pro-
vided a conducive classroom environment that allowed mutual
human-machine interactions that must have exerted a positive
influence on the outcomes reported in the study. This is in line
with earlier (Kiboss, 2010; Robinson, 1994) claims that the
effective use of modern classroom instruction systems such as
electronic learning environments do not just only engage learn-
ers vicariously in the learning process but tend to also empower
them and transform their classroom learning approaches, hence
making them to develop the necessary knowledge and skills.
In light of this, the findings have nevertheless reaffirmed
previous studies that concluded that:
1) the use of electronic mediated instructional programs have
the potential of boosting the students’ development of factual
knowledge as well as their conceptual understanding and pro-
cedural skills (Kiboss, 2010; Wekesa et al., 2006);
2) the traditional mode due to lack of adequate resources of-
ten make the learning of basic science concepts a dogma to be
committed to memory but ELEP has made the teaching of
measurement that is considered by most teachers as difficult to
teach and learn modestly effective;
3) ELEP can open new channels of communication and ex-
periences for pupils in ways that are not possible with tradi-
tional methods (Kiboss & Ogunniyi, 2005).
On the whole, and considering the findings of this study,
there is evidence to suggest that ELEP influenced the students’
approaches and learning experience in the physics laboratory
classroom. The study demonstrated that pupils’ instructional
approaches that involve the use of electronic learning environ-
ments can indeed in boost the pupils’ understanding of meas-
J. K. KIBOSS 251
urement concepts and methods associated with school science.
It also proved that although teachers tend to resist change, they
nevertheless as a result of some impasse they feel they have
reached in their teaching may gravitate out of necessity towards
that change. Apparently, it has become clear that the teacher’s
pre-existing conceptions of instructional practice are critically
important to the understanding of what teachers do with com-
puters in the classroom milieu. In effect the findings have
demonstrated that the resources must be understood in relation
to the curriculum within which learning occurs. This is because
the teacher’s practice and its history may allow us to understand
how they may be incorporated into the teaching and learning
culture (Zumbach, 2006; Keller, 2005; Lemke, 1995). However,
future studies are necessary to ascertain whether these findings
are incidental of genuine.
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