Identifying grade twelve learners' problem solving startegies in gravitational acceleration problems

Mokhele, Mahlatshwayo Judith
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The purpose of this research was to identify grade 12 learners’ present problemsolving strategies, factors that hinder or promote these learners’ mastery of problem-solving strategies in physics. The research used 54 learners and four different research methods, namely documents review, questionnaire, interviews, and observations. A multiple choice questionnaire was used to find out learners’ understanding of the concept “gravitational acceleration” and factors hindering acquisition. Learners were asked to choose the correct option from a multiple choice questionnaire, and to provide a reason for that option. After analyzing data from the questionnaire, four learners were purposefully sampled for interviews and were continuously observed. The results of this study indicate that Grade 12 learners begin their problem-solving by identifying the problem followed by listing given information and go on to search and manipulate the equation until they find the solution. The results also indicate that these learners do not have a clear understanding of the concept ‘gravitational acceleration’. The following factors hinder the mastery of problem-solving: (a) not understanding concept and principles of physics, (b) learners’ lack of mathematical skills, (c) the learners’ application of algorithms in problems that are conceptual and (d) learners’ lack of appropriate knowledge for solving a problem, for example, lack of prior knowledge or content knowledge.