npsm 새물리 New Physics : Sae Mulli

pISSN 0374-4914 eISSN 2289-0041


Research Paper

New Phys.: Sae Mulli 2020; 70: 851-862

Published online October 30, 2020

Copyright © New Physics: Sae Mulli.

Students' Understanding of the Ontological and Epistemological Meanings of Physics Equations

Minchul KIM1,2, Yongwook CHEONG3, Jinwoong SONG4*

1Gyeonggi Science High School for the Gifted, Suwon 16297, Korea

2Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, 08826, Korea
3Department of Physics Education, Gyeongsang National University, Jinju 52828, Korea
4The center for Education Research/Department of Physics Education, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea


Received: July 24, 2020; Revised: August 31, 2020; Accepted: September 28, 2020


A physics equation is a mathematical symbol of the relationship between physics concepts. Although the interactions between physics and mathematics are diverse, in the context of physics teaching and learning, the mathematical aspect tends to be overemphasized. Therefore, in this study, the characteristics of science gifted students' understanding of the ontological and the epistemological meanings of physics equations were analyzed. In semantic classification according to ontological categories, students were relatively correct in classifying the state relationship, but not the interaction and causal relationship. In the classification according to the epistemological category, students were relatively correct in the classification of the empirical law, but not in the classification of a principle. In particular, the students tended to classify a physical equation corresponding to a principle as an the empirical law. Educational implications related to these findings are discussed.

Keywords: Physics equation, Ontological meaning, Epistemological meaning, Student’s understanding

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