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Ágnes Kluknavszky and Zoltán Tóth: Using the word association method to study students’ concepts related to air pollution

Researchers of methods regarding how to teach science subjects successfully use word association tests, developed and usually used by psychologists, to map students’ knowledge about scientific concepts and to find functional connections between these concepts. The word association test developed by Garskof and Houston gives an insight to the subjects’ thinking. It reveals what concepts comprise their knowledge of a certain topic. The section of the responses to the test’s stimulus words is the basis for calculating the relatedness coefficient, which shows the strength of their connection. With this value a graph can be constructed, revealing the knowledge structure of the group of students examined. By including the frequency of the associated concepts, the graphs represent the strength of the connection which the stimulus concepts elicit and, furthermore, they reveal the routes of associated concepts through which the stimulus concepts are connected to each other. In this survey, the Garskof and Houston word association test was administered to children in the seventh and eighth grades of primary school, and to students in the ninth and tenth grades of secondary academic school, in order to examine their knowledge about air pollution. This paper presents the results of this research. The word association test was found to be an appropriate instrument to compare the knowledge structure of student groups and to trace conceptual development.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 109. Number 4. 321-342. (2009)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Kluknavszky Ágnes, Csokonai Vitéz Mihály Gimnázium, H–4032 Debrecen, Békessy Béla utca 12.; Tóth Zoltán, Debreceni Egyetem, Szervetlen és Analitikai Kémiai Tanszék, Kémia Szakmód¬szertani Csoport, H–4010 Debrecen, Pf. 66.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia